A Novelist and Real-Life Spy Breaks Down His Days of Espionage in the New #2 Movie on Apple TV+

The "greatest story" he never told

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Still from 'The Pigeon Tunnel.'
Apple TV+

In 2020, at the age of 89, John le Carré passed away at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, England, but not before he filmed one final documentary detailing all the secrets of his life.

In The Pigeon Tunnel, the famed novelist behind Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy opens up about his days of espionage, which ultimately inspired the bestselling novels he wrote throughout the latter half of his life.

After premiering in theaters this past September, the tell-all film was released to Apple TV+ on October 20, where it quickly moved into the number-two spot on the site's list of most-watched films.

“It's terribly difficult to recruit for a secret service,” le Carré (born David John Moore Cornwell) says in the trailer. “You're looking for somebody who's a bit bad, but at the same time, loyal.”

Le Carré must've been exactly what the secret service was looking for, because he worked for the MI5 and the MI6 throughout his twenties and early thirties. “There's a type, and I fit it perfectly,” he adds.

However, in this new doc, le Carré describes the divide between his days as a spy and the world he fabricated in his novels, explaining that his books were what he thought being in the secret service would be like...but it was not.

But despite his many novels, le Carré still has more to say, and as the trailer teases, this film unlocks the “greatest story” that the author never told.

The Pigeon Tunnel was written and directed by Errol Morris, who won an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2003, for his film The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara.

The doc was “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, where the consensus reads: “Enthralling for fans as well as those who've never read one of his bestsellers, The Pigeon Tunnel pulls back the curtain on a master of the espionage thriller.”

We know what we'll be watching this weekend.

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Associate Editor, News and Entertainment

Joel is the Associate Editor for News & Entertainment and has been reporting on all things pop culture for over 5 years. Before working at PureWow, he served as a Features...