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The Best Spy Movies Based on Books 

Ranker Film
Updated May 13, 2019 379 votes 47 voters 1.5k views 40 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite spy movies that are based on or inspired by literature.

From secret agents risking their lives to CIA operatives investigating global conspiracies, this list includes information about the best spy movies based on books. Some spy movies based on novels stay true to the source material while other spy films adapted from books create new storylines. Some of the best spy movies based on books have at award-winning directors at the helm.

What sagas will you find on this best spy movies based on books list? Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy has to be near the top. This 2011 Cold War spy thriller was based on John le Carre's novel of the same name. Double agent drama and spies investigating spies are at the heart of the film's mysterious story. Argo is another good spy movie based on a book.

CIA secrets worth killing for are found in The Bourne Identity. Other good spy movies based on books include The Third Man, The Lady VanishesThe Constant Gardener, and of course, Bond films.

Do you have a favorite spy movie based on a book? Vote the best films up to the top of this list and please add any good options we may have missed.

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list ordered by
1
From Russia with Love is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Sean Connery, Robert Shaw, Daniela Bianchi

Released: 1963

Directed by: Terence Young

From Russia with Love is the second James Bond film made by Eon Productions and the second to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Released in 1963, the film was produced by ...more
2
Goldfinger is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Garry Marshall

Released: 1964

Directed by: Guy Hamilton

Goldfinger is the third film in the James Bond series and the third to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. It is based on the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. The film ...more
3
Casino Royale is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Alessandra Ambrosio, Eva Green, Daniel Craig

Released: 2006

Directed by: Martin Campbell

Casino Royale is the twenty-first film in the Eon Productions James Bond film series and the first to star Daniel Craig as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. Directed by Martin Campbell and ...more
4
The Bourne Ultimatum is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Brian Cox

Released: 2007

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

The Bourne Ultimatum is a 2007 American-German action spy thriller film directed by Paul Greengrass loosely based on the Robert Ludlum novel of the same title. The screenplay was written by Tony ...more
5
The Bourne Supremacy is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Michelle Monaghan

Released: 2004

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

The Bourne Supremacy is a 2004 American-German action and spy film starring Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne character. Though it takes the name of the second Bourne novel, its plot is entirely ...more
6
The Spy Who Came in from... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Robert Hardy

Released: 1965

Directed by: Martin Ritt

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a 1965 British Cold War spy film directed by Martin Ritt and starring Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, and Oskar Werner. Based on the 1963 novel of the same ...more
7
Thunderball is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Sean Connery, Luciana Paluzzi, Claudine Auger

Released: 1965

Directed by: Terence Young

Thunderball is the fourth spy film in the James Bond series starring Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. It is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by Ian Fleming, which ...more
8
The Hunt for Red October... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery, Tim Curry

Released: 1990

Directed by: John McTiernan

The Hunt for Red October is a 1990 American submarine spy-thriller film directed by John McTiernan, based on the 1984 novel by Tom Clancy. In November 1984, the Soviet Union's best submarine ...more
9
Dr. No is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Jack Lord

Released: 1962

Directed by: Terence Young

Dr. No is a 1962 British spy film, starring Sean Connery; it is the first James Bond film. Based on the 1958 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming, it was adapted by Richard Maibaum, Johanna ...more
10
The Third Man is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Joseph Cotten

Released: 1949

Directed by: Carol Reed

The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli, Orson Welles, and Trevor Howard. It is considered one of the greatest films of all ...more
11
The Spy Who Loved Me is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Caroline Munro

Released: 1977

Directed by: Lewis Gilbert

The Spy Who Loved Me is the tenth spy film in the James Bond series, and the third to star Roger Moore as the fictional secret agent James Bond. It was directed by Lewis Gilbert and the ...more
12
The Ipcress File is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Michael Caine, Sue Lloyd, Gordon Jackson

Released: 1965

Directed by: Sidney J. Furie

The Ipcress File is a 1965 British espionage film directed by Sidney J. Furie, starring Michael Caine and featuring Guy Doleman and Nigel Green. The screenplay by Bill Canaway and James Doran ...more
13
Clear and Present Danger... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, James Earl Jones

Released: 1994

Directed by: Phillip Noyce

Clear and Present Danger is a 1994 spy action thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce, based on Tom Clancy's book of the same name. It was preceded by the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October and ...more
14
The Bourne Identity is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Matt Damon, Clive Owen, Julia Stiles

Released: 2002

Directed by: Doug Liman

The Bourne Identity is a 2002 American-German action spy film adaptation of Robert Ludlum's novel of the same name. It stars Matt Damon as Jason Bourne, a man suffering from extreme memory loss ...more
15
On Her Majesty's Secret ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Diana Rigg, Joanna Lumley, Telly Savalas

Released: 1969

Directed by: Peter R. Hunt

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the sixth spy film in the James Bond series, based on the 1963 novel of the same name by Ian Fleming. Following the decision of Sean Connery to retire from the ...more
16
Argo is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston

Released: 2012

Directed by: Ben Affleck

Argo is a 2012 American political thriller film directed by Ben Affleck. The film is adapted from U.S. Central Intelligence Agency operative Tony Mendez's book The Master of Disguise and Joshuah ...more
17
Patriot Games is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones

Released: 1992

Directed by: Phillip Noyce

Patriot Games is a 1992 action-suspense film directed by Phillip Noyce and based on Tom Clancy's novel of the same name. It is a sequel to the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October, but with ...more
18
The Tailor of Panama is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Pierce Brosnan, Jamie Lee Curtis, Daniel Radcliffe

Released: 2001

Directed by: John Boorman

The Tailor of Panama is a 2001 Irish-American spy thriller film directed by John Boorman and starring Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush. Jamie Lee Curtis, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Radcliffe, ...more
19
Never Say Never Again is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Sean Connery, Kim Basinger, Rowan Atkinson

Released: 1983

Directed by: Irvin Kershner

Never Say Never Again is a 1983 spy film based on the James Bond novel Thunderball, which was previously adapted in 1965 under that name. Unlike the majority of Bond films, Never Say Never Again ...more
20
Secret Agent is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
John Gielgud, Peter Lorre, Robert Young

Released: 1936

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Secret Agent is a British film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on two stories in Ashenden: Or the British Agent by W. Somerset Maugham. The film starred Madeleine Carroll, Peter ...more
21
The 39 Steps is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Alfred Hitchcock, Madeleine Carroll, Robert Donat

Released: 1935

Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

The 39 Steps is a 1935 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll. Loosely based on the 1915 adventure novel The Thirty-Nine Steps by John ...more
22
You Only Live Twice is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Sean Connery, Donald Pleasence, Lois Maxwell

Released: 1967

Directed by: Lewis Gilbert

You Only Live Twice is the fifth spy film in the James Bond series, and the fifth to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film's screenplay was written by Roald Dahl, and ...more
23
Charlotte Gray is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Cate Blanchett, Billy Crudup, Michael Gambon

Released: 2001

Directed by: Gillian Armstrong

Charlotte Gray is a 2001 British–Australian–German drama film directed by Gillian Armstrong and adapted from the novel of the same name by Sebastian Faulks. It is set in Vichy France during ...more
24
Moonraker is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Roger Moore, Lois Chiles, Richard Kiel

Released: 1979

Directed by: Lewis Gilbert

Moonraker is the eleventh spy film in the James Bond series, and the fourth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The third and final film in the series to be directed by ...more
25
The Man with the Golden ... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Christopher Lee, Roger Moore, Britt Ekland

Released: 1974

Directed by: Guy Hamilton

The Man with the Golden Gun is the ninth spy film in the James Bond series and the second to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. A loose adaptation of Ian Fleming's novel of ...more