[[caption-width-right:350:Sardonic spy Harry Palmer]]
Creator/MichaelCaine played British secret agent Harry Palmer in five films, based on a series of novels by Creator/LenDeighton.
The first three -- ''The Ipcress File'', ''Funeral in Berlin'', and ''Billion Dollar Brain'' -- were released in the 1960s, during the height of the Sean Connery Film/JamesBond films, and offer a grimmer alternative to the increasingly flashy espionage of Bond. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this is that they were actually produced by Bond producer Harry Saltzman, who recruited much of the Bond films' ProductionPosse to essentially make his own in-house, contrasting "realistic" spy series. Caine returned to the role thirty years later for two more films, ''Bullet to Beijing'' and ''Midnight in Saint Petersburg''.
There are more related novels, ''Horse Under Water'' and ''An Expensive Place To Die'' starring the "Palmer" character, and ''Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Spy'' and ''Spy Story'' featuring a different (but also unnamed) spy and some recurring characters. The former two were never adapted (''Horse Under Water'' [[WhatCouldHaveBeen would have been next]] if ''Billion Dollar Brain'' had performed better), but the last was adapted separately with the character under the name "Pat Armstrong", his alias in that novel.
Harry Palmer had a bigger influence on Caine's career than you might think. In the film ''Blue Ice'', Caine played a retired spy named [[AdaptationNameChange Harry]] as a MythologyGag to the role, and wore the iconic NHS frames again as spies [[Franchise/AustinPowers Nigel Powers]] and [[Film/KingsmanTheSecretService Chester King/"Arthur"]].
!!Films in this series with their own trope pages include:
!!The films in this series provide examples of:
* GeneralRipper: General Midwinter (Ed Begley Sr.) in Ken Russell's ''Billion Dollar Brain''.
* NamedByTheAdaptation: Harry Palmer. The narrator-protagonist of the novels never gave his name - ironically, "Harry" is the only name he ever explicitly denies is his real name, when someone who only knows him as "Harry" says hello in the street.
* SpecsOfAwesome: Heavy-framed National Health Service spectacles form part of Harry Palmer's deceptively insignificant-seeming appearance.
* SpyFiction: On this wiki's scale, Stale Beer. Very, very stale.