Michael Caine made his first appearance as novelist Len Deighton's bespectacled British-spy Harry Palmer in The Ipcress File. Palmer has no real love of espionage, but he doesn't really know any other life. With studied insolence, he takes on the case of locating missing doctor Radcliffe (Aubrey Richards), who has in his possession a valuable file that would prove injurious to the Free World should it fall in the wrong hands. The government also fears that Radcliffe will be brainwashed by the enemy, as has happened to two previous British scientists. While Palmer is off doing everyone else's dirty work, his superior, Nigel Green, is making a deal with duplicitous information "broker" Frank Gatliff to win Radcliffe's release. The price for this would seem to be Palmer, who is captured by the enemy and subjected to a grueling brainwashing session. Palmer escapes, whereupon he confronts a traitor in his midst in the climactic exchange of gunfire. Advertised as "The Thinking Man's Goldfinger, The Ipcress File offered a far more realistic view of the morally ambivalent world of espionage than did the like-vintage James Bond films.
by Hal Erickson synopsis