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YMMV / Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

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  • Awesome Music: The ending of the film makes triumphant use of Julio Iglesias' cover of "La mer."
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Prideaux snapping a bird's neck after it flies through his classroom fireplace and frightens his students. Justified in the original novel, as it foreshadows how Prideaux would kill Haydon, but it ends up being rather baffling in the movie, where Prideaux nails Haydon with a rifle instead.
    • Lacon buttering a toast really, really loudly during his meeting with Bland and Alleline.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: Alec Guinness as George Smiley. In the audiobook voiced by Michael Jayston, he appears to be doing an Alec Guinness impression for Smiley's voice.
  • Fan Nickname: Due to being directed by Tomas Alfredson, this film gained the nickname of "Get the Wrong One Out"
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Bill Haydon's given role in the movie is the "tailor". It wouldn’t be the last time he would play a spy associated with tailors.
  • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: A lot of viewers guessed that the traitor is Colin Firth's character purely on the strength of him being Colin Firth. The fact that the actor received second billing on the movie poster may have also been something of a giveaway.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • A quick shot of Irina's husband sitting in a bath full of blood with his guts ripped out.
    • The Cold-Blooded Torture that Prideaux is put through is pretty brutal, including being forced to listen to a tape that is nothing but intermittent white noise and screaming. Even worse is the fact that his torturers seem utterly bored by the whole thing, like they just want to get it over with. Of course there's also the fact that Prideaux is Forced to Watch as Irina is shot in the head in front of him, and Pretty Little Headshots does NOT apply here. No wonder he was so fucked up by the experience.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Joss Ackland as affable Jerry Westerby and Nigel Stock as passive aggressive gossip Roddy Martindale each have a single extended scene where they do get plenty of dialogue in opposite Smiley. Martindale, in particular, acts as a bit of exposition for the viewer. Patrick Stewart however doesn't even have a single line of dialogue.
    • Ian Bannen is prominent for the first half of episode one and then he disappears entirely until his pivotal return at the very end.
    • Patrick Stewart as Karla in this miniseries and later in Smiley's People. He doesn't even speak a single word during his one scene in each series, but is still captivating. It doesn't hurt that for Sci-Fi fans, the scene is basically Obi-Wan Kenobi and Captain Picard sharing the screen.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Smiley goes on and on about Karla being an unremarkable, unmemorable man and then we meet him and it's Jean Luc Picard. At the time Patrick Stewart was a well-respected character actor, but one who was by no means a household name. He was best known for stage work and for a supporting role in I, Claudius.
    • Alan Rickman played a hotel concierge in Smiley's People, appearing for barely thirty seconds. His character jokes if the bag Smiley drops off is going to blow up.
  • Squick: In the film adaptation.
    • The baby continuing to suckle on the woman's breast after she's been shot dead.
    • After Irina is shot in the head, there's a lingering shot of Prideaux doing a Thousand-Yard Stare at the wall, which is covered in Irina's brain matter and blood. The shot ends with a piece of her brain peeling off the wall with a squishy plop sound.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!: Peter Hitchens' review of the film was essentially a point-by-point list of every alteration from the novel, and why each was a change for the worse.