Spies

The Best Spy Movies Based on Books  

Ranker Film
282 votes 39 voters 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.

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
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
The Bourne Supremacy is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Michelle Monaghan
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
3
Goldfinger is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Sean Connery, Honor Blackman, Garry Marshall
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
4
The Spy Who Came in from the C... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Richard Burton, Claire Bloom, Robert Hardy
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
5
Argo is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Bryan Cranston
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
6
Casino Royale is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Alessandra Ambrosio, Eva Green, Daniel Craig
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
7
Thunderball is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Sean Connery, Luciana Paluzzi, Claudine Auger
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 Third Man is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Orson Welles, Trevor Howard, Joseph Cotten
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
9
The Ipcress File is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Michael Caine, Sue Lloyd, Gordon Jackson
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
10
The Hunt for Red October is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery, Tim Curry
The Hunt for Red October is a 1990 American action thriller film based on Tom Clancy's novel of the same name. It was directed by John McTiernan and stars Sean Connery as Captain Marko Ramius ...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
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 39 Steps is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Alfred Hitchcock, Madeleine Carroll, Robert Donat
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
13
On Her Majesty's Secret Servic... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Diana Rigg, Joanna Lumley, Telly Savalas
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
14
The Bourne Ultimatum is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Matt Damon, Julia Stiles, Brian Cox
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
15
The Bourne Identity is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Matt Damon, Clive Owen, Julia Stiles
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
16
Clear and Present Danger is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe, James Earl Jones
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
17
Dr. No is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Jack Lord
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
18
Never Say Never Again is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Sean Connery, Kim Basinger, Rowan Atkinson
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
19
You Only Live Twice is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Sean Connery, Donald Pleasence, Lois Maxwell
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
20
Secret Agent is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
John Gielgud, Peter Lorre, Robert Young
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 Lady Vanishes is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Alfred Hitchcock, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas
The Lady Vanishes is a 1938 British comic thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Margaret Lockwood, Michael Redgrave, Paul Lukas and Dame May Whitty. Written by Sidney Gilliat ...more
22
The Constant Gardener is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Rachel Weisz, Ralph Fiennes, Bill Nighy
The Constant Gardener is a 2005 drama thriller film directed by Fernando Meirelles. The screenplay by Jeffrey Caine is based on the John le Carré novel of the same name. The film follows ...more
23
Red Sparrow is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Jennifer Lawrence, Joel Edgerton, Matthias Schoenaerts
Red Sparrow is a 2018 American spy thriller film directed by Francis Lawrence, based on the book by Jason Matthews. A Russian spy (Jennifer Lawrence) falls for a CIA officer (Joel Edgerton) and ...more
24
Our Man in Havana is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Maureen O'Hara, Alec Guinness, Burl Ives
Our Man in Havana is a 1959 British film shot in CinemaScope, directed and produced by Carol Reed and starring Alec Guinness, Burl Ives, Maureen O'Hara, Ralph Richardson, Noël Coward and ...more
25
Patriot Games is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Spy Movies Based on Books
Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson, James Earl Jones
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