Top 10 Spy Movies – So Say Real Spies

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy MoviesThe Long Island Spy Museum surveyed real former spies, asking them to share their expert opinions on spy films. According to the survey, the former U.S. intelligence agents chose Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy as their favorite spy movie of all time.
Per the Long Island Museum: “The informal survey consisted of in-person interviews with ten former intelligence officers from Military Special Operations, former case officers from the State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research, and former senior agents from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Clandestine Service (NCS), the National Security Agency (NSA) and Geospatial Intelligence Agency. They are all founders and Board Members of the Long Island Spy Museum, a non-profit, apolitical Museum dedicated to educating the public about spies and espionage and how they shaped American history.”
“These movies are considered great recruiting vehicles,” said the interviewer, a former spy from the U.S. State Dept’s Bureau of Intelligence and Research who needed to remain anonymous (for security purposes). “The Bourne Identity and James Bond franchises resemble the ‘tip of the spear’ Special Forces Operators rather then the espionage case officers in the top-ten list.”
“We’re always asked, ‘What are spies really like?’” said Burke Liburt, Chief Executive Officer, Long Island Spy Museum. “Real spies are highly intelligent, quick-witted people who have chosen to put their country’s needs ahead of their own. It’s fascinating to see what real spies think about Hollywood’s depiction of their craft.”

Real Former Spies Favorite Spy Movies [Courtesy of the Long Island Spy Museum]:

1. Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979) — Based on a novel by former British intelligence officer John le Carré, this movie depicts a mole hunt in the “Circus,” the highest echelon of the British Secret Intelligence Service.
“Real-life spies love the plot focus on recruitment of assets, betrayal and subterfuge; this is the ‘bread and butter’ of spycraft,” said one former CIA officer.

2. Munich (2006) – A historically based movie depicting the Israeli government’s response to The Black September Organization, the Palestinian terrorist group responsible for the kidnapping and murder of eleven Israeli athletes and officials and the fatal shooting of a West German policeman during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich.
3. Ronin (1998) – This intelligence thriller reflects the most accurate depiction of a Non-Official Cover (NOC) officer, according to the former spies.
“NOC officers do not have the protection of diplomatic immunity so when they are caught working in foreign lands, it usually results in incarceration, death or severe bodily harm,” said one NSA agent.
4. 39 Steps (1935) – This movie, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, tells the story of a man in London who tries to help a counterespionage agent.
5. Eye of the Needle (1981) – A ruthless German spy during World War II tries to get out of Britain with vital information about D-Day.
6. Three Days of the Condor (1975) – CIA researcher finds all his co-workers dead, and must outwit those responsible until he figures out who he can and cannot really trust in the Agency.
7. The Spy Who Came In From the Cold (1965) – Based on a best selling Cold War spy novel by John le Carré.
8. Body of Lies (2008) – “This movie superbly illustrates contemporary tension between Western and Arab societies and the comparative effectiveness of hi-tech technology versus human counter-intelligence methods,” said the Special Operations officer.
9. The Good Shepherd (2006) – A fictional movie based on real events, recounting the untold story of the birth of counter-intelligence in the CIA.
10. Tailor of Panama (2001) – “Spies love Pierce Brosnan’s betrayal of the ‘loose cannon’ spy who creates all kinds of mayhem by tweaking the intelligence that he is sending back to headquarters,” said another real-life former operative.
For more on the non-profit apolitical Long Island Spy Museum, visit
Source: Long Island Spy Museum