Best non-Bond spy movies of all time?

Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,918MI6 Agent
I'm listening to the "Best spy movies of all time" episode on the Spybrary podcast and I can say Bond is mentioned. I thought a thread on this topic should be on AJB, but I decided to exclude the Bond film to force us to think a bit outside the box.
Here are some of my choices in no particular order, and please list some of your favourites!

The Bourne Identity

The lives of others

Where Eagles Dare

The Hunt for the Red October

Tinker Taylor Soldier Spy

Zero Dark Thirthy

OSS 117 Nest of Spies



  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent
    the Thirty Nine Steps
    and at least a half dozen other Hitchcocks, but I think these two are essential

    The Third Man
    not technically a spy story, but of interest to spy story fans

    the Manchurian Candidate

    Three Days of the Condor

    I like spy stories where things get all morally ambiguous and paranoid. Our Bond films tend to err with their clear cut distinction between Good and Evil.
  • Mr MartiniMr Martini That nice house in the sky.Posts: 2,670MI6 Agent
    First one that comes to mind is Sneakers.
    Some people would complain even if you hang them with a new rope
  • HardyboyHardyboy Posts: 5,765Chief of Staff
    I agree with Caracatus that Notorious should be up there--it's arguably the GREATEST spy film ever made. I'm also a big fan of Martin Ritt's adaptation of The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.
    Vox clamantis in deserto
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,918MI6 Agent
    Yes, Notorious should probably be on my list too. I often wish Hitchcock made a version of CR in the same style and tone.
  • Smithers500Smithers500 Spectre IslandPosts: 1,032MI6 Agent
    North by Northwest, equally as good as Notorious, gets my vote.
    Japanese proverb say, "Bird never make nest in bare tree".
  • Charmed & DangerousCharmed & Dangerous Posts: 7,161MI6 Agent
    I was just about to type North by Northwest too - -{

    Our Man Flint, The Quiller Memorandum, The Liquidator and a handful of others are also great fun spy films from the golden age of spy movies.
    "How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."
  • GymkataGymkata Minnesota, USAPosts: 3,250MI6 Agent
    A more recent entry that I quite enjoy: NO WAY OUT with Kevin Costner. It takes a little while to get going but the last half of the film is fantastic at ramping up the tension.

    For sheer fun, it's also hard to beat TRUE LIES. Same with the underrated THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. from a few years ago. Some of the MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE movies are way up there as well, especially ROGUE NATION and FALLOUT. SNEAKERS is another really fun one.

    Not sure if it qualifies or not but I personally love RONIN as a great throw-back cold war type thriller. The car chases are great but I also think that the movie surrounding the chases is also great.

    A really funny one that comes to mind is BURN AFTER READING, an underrated Coen brothers film. Some great humor in there. SPY, with Melissa McCarthy, is also quite funny and features Jason Statham in a scene stealing role.

    Would THE CONVERSATION count? It's not really a spy movie per se but it does have a lot of spy elements to it.
    Current rankings:
    Bond rankings: Lazenby>Moore>Connery>Craig>Brosnan>Dalton
  • Number24Number24 NorwayPosts: 17,918MI6 Agent
    There is a genere that focuses on information gathering and surveillance, but in the field of crime fighting and not military and political secrets.
    The Conversation, Internal Affairs and the brilliant TV series The Wire are examples of this. I'd say this is a genere related to spy movies without actualllly being spy movies. Others may argue differently of course.

    Eye in the Sky (2015) should be added to my list. It's a overlooked thriller about drone warfare, a field of warfare that's far more important in real life than in the movies. Very tense and inteligent.
  • Gala BrandGala Brand Posts: 1,147MI6 Agent
    "Our Man in Havana," starring Alec Guinness from a novel by Graham Greene (who was a part-time MI6 operative).
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 31,295Chief of Staff
    Take your pick from the Harry Palmer flicks-

    The Ipcress File, Funeral In Berlin, Billion-Dollar Brain
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 2,348MI6 Agent
    this is getting to be a good list, several I've never heard of before.

    since we're including silly ones, I'm proud to be the first to say:
    Austin Powers
  • Gala BrandGala Brand Posts: 1,147MI6 Agent
    As mentioned above, Hitchcock was the master of the spy film. In addition to those referenced, Saboteur and Sabotage are very good and North By Northwest is great. I even think I couple of his late spy films, Torn Curtain and Topaz are good, although they're not highly thought of overall.
  • ThunderpussyThunderpussy Behind you !Posts: 63,697MI6 Agent
    I love North by Northwest and The fourth Protocol, along with The Man from UNCLE and Kingsman
    on TV Spooks and The Games are all worth watching.
    "I've been informed that there ARE a couple of QAnon supporters who are fairly regular posters in AJB."
  • Golrush007Golrush007 South AfricaPosts: 3,025Quartermasters
    Many good suggestions in this thread - Ipcress File, Tinker Tailor, Spy Who Came in From the Cold, The Fourth Protocol are all favourites.

    In addition to these, I would recommend a very good spy film, based on an excellent novel by Brian Freemantle: Charlie Muffin. This is a made for TV film from 1979, with a very fine cast headed up by David Hemmings as the titular character, a down-at-heel but very wily British agent. I think there is a low quality version of the film on Youtube, but I managed to get a good quality DVD copy in a boxset with other Euston Films productions called 'Armchair Cinema'.

  • QuantumofSolangeQuantumofSolange UKPosts: 80MI6 Agent
    I'd like to suggest The American starring George Clooney and based on a book called A Very Private Gentleman.
    Yes but my martini's still dry.
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