Harry Palmer

Harry Palmer is the protagonist of a number of films based on the unnamed main character from the spy novels written by Len Deighton. Michael Caine played Harry Palmer in three of the four films based on the four published novels featuring this character. Caine also starred as this character in two other films not directly based on Deighton’s novels. When developing the film The Ipcress File, based on Len Deighton’s novel of the same name, the production team needed a name for the previously anonymous secret agent protagonist, they chose ‘Harry Palmer’, because they wanted a dull, unglamorous name to distance him from Ian Fleming‘s James Bond, the stereotypical flamboyant, swashbuckling spy. … This coincidentally meshed with the protagonist in the books being referred to as ‘Harry’ by another character, although he clearly states this is not his real name. However, the ambiguity this creates between the two versions, while coincidental, is in keeping with the nature of the character and Deighton’s theme of agents losing sight of their original lives. It is never made clear if the book protagonist had ever used the name and forgotten his old alias (or former life), or if the film protagonist is using an assumed name to distance himself from his former illegal activities. Either, or both, is possible. … Deighton’s spy is described as working class, living in a back street flat and seedy hotels, and shopping in supermarkets. He wears glasses, is hindered by bureaucracy, and craves a pay raise. Further novels featuring this character followed: Horse Under Water (1963), Funeral in Berlin (1964), and Billion-Dollar Brain (1966). Again however the lead protagonist is never named, although they are clearly the same character in all of the books. …”
W – Len Deighton, amazon
W – The Ipcress File (film), W – Funeral in Berlin (film), W – Billion Dollar Brain
YouTube: Trailer The Ipcress File, Trailer Funeral in Berlin, Trailer Billion Dollar Brain

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