Adaptations
54 voters

The Best Spy Movies Based on Books

Updated May 13, 2019 690 votes 54 voters 1.9k views40 items

List RulesVote 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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  • 1
    From Russia with Love
    26
    2

    From Russia with Love

    Sean Connery, Robert Shaw

    Released1963

    Directed byTerence Young

    From Russia with Love is the second James Bond film made by Eon Productions and the second to... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 2
    Goldfinger
    25
    2

    Goldfinger

    Sean Connery, Honor Blackman

    Released1964

    Directed byGuy Hamilton

    Goldfinger is the third film in the James Bond series and the third to star Sean Connery as... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 3
    Secret Agent
    20
    8

    Secret Agent

    John Gielgud, Peter Lorre

    Released1936

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    Secret Agent is a British film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, loosely based on two stories in... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 4
    Dr. No
    16
    4

    Dr. No

    Sean Connery, Ursula Andress

    Released1962

    Directed byTerence Young

    Dr. No is a 1962 British spy film, starring Sean Connery; it is the first James Bond film.... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 5
    The Spy Who Loved Me
    17
    6

    The Spy Who Loved Me

    Roger Moore, Barbara Bach

    Released1977

    Directed byLewis Gilbert

    The Spy Who Loved Me is the tenth spy film in the James Bond series, and the third to star... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 6
    The Hunt for Red October
    20
    10

    The Hunt for Red October

    Alec Baldwin, Sean Connery

    Released1990

    Directed byJohn McTiernan

    The Hunt for Red October is a 1990 American submarine spy-thriller film directed by John... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 7
    Thunderball
    16
    5

    Thunderball

    Sean Connery, Luciana Paluzzi

    Released1965

    Directed byTerence Young

    Thunderball is the fourth spy film in the James Bond series starring Sean Connery as the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 8
    The Bourne Supremacy
    13
    2

    The Bourne Supremacy

    Matt Damon, Julia Stiles

    Released2004

    Directed byPaul Greengrass

    The Bourne Supremacy is a 2004 American-German action and spy film starring Robert Ludlum's... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 9
    Clear and Present Danger
    17
    8

    Clear and Present Danger

    Harrison Ford, Willem Dafoe

    Released1994

    Directed byPhillip Noyce

    Clear and Present Danger is a 1994 spy action thriller film directed by Phillip Noyce, based... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 10
    The Bourne Ultimatum
    17
    7

    The Bourne Ultimatum

    Matt Damon, Julia Stiles

    Released2007

    Directed byPaul Greengrass

    The Bourne Ultimatum is a 2007 American-German action spy thriller film directed by Paul... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 11
    You Only Live Twice
    10
    0

    You Only Live Twice

    Sean Connery, Donald Pleasence

    Released1967

    Directed byLewis Gilbert

    You Only Live Twice is the fifth spy film in the James Bond series, and the fifth to star Sean... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 12
    Casino Royale
    25
    19

    Casino Royale

    Alessandra Ambrosio, Eva Green

    Released2006

    Directed byMartin Campbell

    Casino Royale is the twenty-first film in the Eon Productions James Bond film series and the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 13
    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
    14
    6

    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold

    Richard Burton, Claire Bloom

    Released1965

    Directed byMartin Ritt

    The Spy Who Came in from the Cold is a 1965 British Cold War spy film directed by Martin Ritt... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 14
    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
    16
    9

    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

    Tom Hardy, Benedict Cumberbatch

    Released2011

    Directed byTomas Alfredson

    Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is a 2011 espionage film directed by Tomas Alfredson. The screenplay... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 15
    The Bourne Identity
    14
    8

    The Bourne Identity

    Matt Damon, Clive Owen

    Released2002

    Directed byDoug Liman

    The Bourne Identity is a 2002 American-German action spy film adaptation of Robert Ludlum's... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 16
    The Third Man
    14
    8

    The Third Man

    Orson Welles, Trevor Howard

    Released1949

    Directed byCarol Reed

    The Third Man is a 1949 British film noir, directed by Carol Reed and starring Joseph Cotten,... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 17
    Our Man in Havana
    12
    5

    Our Man in Havana

    Maureen O'Hara, Alec Guinness

    Released1959

    Directed byCarol Reed

    Our Man in Havana is a 1959 British film shot in CinemaScope, directed and produced by Carol... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 18
    Patriot Games
    10
    4

    Patriot Games

    Harrison Ford, Samuel L. Jackson

    Released1992

    Directed byPhillip Noyce

    Patriot Games is a 1992 action-suspense film directed by Phillip Noyce and based on Tom... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 19
    On Her Majesty's Secret Service
    10
    4

    On Her Majesty's Secret Service

    Diana Rigg, Joanna Lumley

    Released1969

    Directed byPeter R. Hunt

    On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the sixth spy film in the James Bond series, based on the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 20
    The Russia House
    The Russia House is a spy novel by John le Carré published in 1989. The title refers to the... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 21
    Never Say Never Again
    8
    1

    Never Say Never Again

    Sean Connery, Kim Basinger

    Released1983

    Directed byIrvin Kershner

    Never Say Never Again is a 1983 spy film based on the James Bond novel Thunderball, which was... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 22
    The Tailor of Panama
    10
    5

    The Tailor of Panama

    Pierce Brosnan, Jamie Lee Curtis

    Released2001

    Directed byJohn Boorman

    The Tailor of Panama is a 2001 Irish-American spy thriller film directed by John Boorman and... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 23
    The Ipcress File
    14
    10

    The Ipcress File

    Michael Caine, Sue Lloyd

    Released1965

    Directed bySidney J. Furie

    The Ipcress File is a 1965 British espionage film directed by Sidney J. Furie, starring... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 24
    The 39 Steps
    11
    8

    The 39 Steps

    Alfred Hitchcock, Madeleine Carroll

    Released1935

    Directed byAlfred Hitchcock

    The 39 Steps is a 1935 British thriller film directed by Alfred Hitchcock and starring Robert... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button
  • 25
    The Quiller Memorandum
    1
    4

    The Quiller Memorandum

    Alec Guinness, Max von Sydow

    Released1966

    Directed byMichael Anderson

    The Quiller Memorandum is an Anglo-American Eurospy film adapted from the 1965 spy novel The... more on WikipediaAmazon buy button