On December 12, a man called David Cornwell passed away in the English countryside. He was 89 and worked under the alias John Le Carré, a pen name that added a mysterious and sophisticated aura to 60 years of spy novels that were often quietly hellbent on demystifying the very genre he mastered. 

LISTEN: The Most Disappointing Films Of 2020 [The Playlist Podcast]

No single podcast could possibly cover the dozens of revealing narratives Le Carré wove from the ugliness of our world, most especially during The Cold War. From “The Spy Who Came In From the Cold” to “The Constant Gardener” to “Little Drummer Girl,” this uncommonly literary genre artist was as prolific in his own bibliography as he was in inspiring Hollywood to adapt him. 

LISTEN: How Does ‘Mank’ Compare To Other Tall Tales Of Hollywood Screenwriting? [Be Reel Podcast]

The irony, of course, is that Hollywood struggles mightily with the kind of unheroic ambiguity that defined Le Carré’s perspective on espionage, war, and politics in general. To remember his legacy, Be Reel starts 2021 with a super-sized episode revisiting six film adaptations of Le Carré novels: 

  • The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1965)
  • The Deadly Affair (1967)
  • The Russia House (1990)
  • The Tailor of Panama (2001)
  • The Constant Gardener (2005)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

It’s entirely possible we missed your favorite (not to mention all the TV adaptations), so give us a shout at [email protected] to sing its praises. Happy new year. And rest easy, Mr. Cornwell. 

LISTEN: The Breakthrough Directors of 2020

As always, Be Reel is part of The Playlist Podcast Network—which includes The Playlist PodcastThe DiscourseThe Fourth Wall, and more—and can be heard on iTunesAnchorFM, SoundcloudStitcher, and now on Spotify. To listen on this page, you can stream the podcast via the AnchorFM embed below or up top. Follow us on iTunes, and you’ll get this podcast as well as our other shows regularly. Be sure to subscribe, and drop us a comment or a rating as we do appreciate it. Thank you for listening.