Film / Harry Palmer

Michael Caine played British secret agent Harry Palmer in five films, based on a series of novels by Len Deighton.

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 James Bond 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' Production Posse 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 (and in the film Blue Ice, played a retired spy named Harry as a Mythology Gag to the role). There are three more "Harry Palmer" novels, Horse Under Water, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Spy and Spy Story. The former two were never adapted (Horse Under Water would have been next if Billion Dollar Brain had performed better) and the last was adapted separately with the character under the name "Pat Armstrong", his alias in that novel.

Films in this series with their own trope pages include:

The films in this series provide examples of:

  • General Ripper: General Midwinter (Ed Begley Sr.) in Ken Russell's Billion Dollar Brain.
  • Named by the Adaptation: Harry Palmer. The narrator-protagonist of the novels never gave his name.
  • Specs of Awesome: Heavy-framed National Health Service spectacles form part of Harry Palmer's deceptively insignificant-seeming appearance.
  • Spy Fiction: On this wiki's scale, Stale Beer. Very, very stale.