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Hopscotch (Widescreen)

4.4 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Walter Matthau, Glenda Jackson, Sam Waterston, Ned Beatty, Herbert Lom
  • Directors: Ronald Neame
  • Writers: Brian Garfield, Bryan Forbes
  • Producers: Brian Garfield, Edie Landau, Ely A. Landau, Jonathan Bernstein, Otto Plaschkes
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, DVD-Video, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: PG
  • Studio: Criterion
  • Release Date: Oct. 1 2002
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 49 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B00005JL3W
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,134 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

Miles Kendig knows too much. One of the CIA’s top international operatives, he suddenly finds himself relegated to a desk job in an agency power play. Unwilling to go quietly, Kendig, with the aid of a chic Viennese widow, puts himself back in the game by writing a memoir exposing the innermost secrets of every major intelligence agency in the world. The CIA wants Kendig dead, but he refuses to cooperate—he’s having too much fun. Based on Brian Garfield’s best-selling novel, and starring the inimitable comic team of Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, Ronald Neame’s Hopscotch is a smart and stylish tale of international intrigue and a cat-and-mouse comedy.


Walter Matthau is in peak form in Hopscotch, a featherweight spy-game comedy in which he plays a CIA agent who's way smarter than his dimwitted superiors. That's the fantasy part--this amusing cat-and-mouse game is so lopsided that you can't take it seriously. The movie's charm is derived from the sardonic pleasure with which Matthau makes his pursuers look like idiots, after they've targeted him for "termination" for publishing a tell-all memoir about his tenure in "the Company." He's no stool pigeon, however; it's his boss (played with blustery thick-headedness by the great Ned Beatty) who's abusing his power, so Matthau recruits an old lover (Glenda Jackson) to join him in a globetrotting game of clandestine cleverness. Under Ronald Neame's too-casual direction, this is a not-so-wild goose chase, but Matthau and Jackson (reuniting after they had fun making the 1978 comedy House Calls) have an easygoing chemistry that's nicely balanced with Matthau's cantankerous shenanigans. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson -- not a pairing that springs immediately to mind, but one that works to produce a delightfully sharp, smart, funny film. Throw in Ned Beatty, Herbert Lom, and a very young Sam Waterston, and you have a real winner. Hopscotch is one of those movies that we just watch over and over again. Having gone through two or three copies of the tape, we're now getting the DVD.
This is one of those movies that runs on pure wit. One of our favorite scenes is Matthau's engineering the destruction of the CIA director's country house -- by the CIA, and accompanied by the score of Madama Butterfly. As for the cast, Jackson is a perfect droll foil for Matthau's wild irreverence as he undertakes writing his memoirs -- a disclosure of CIA operations during his career as station head in Europe -- and then proceeds to release them, a chapter at a time, to all the major powers. Suddenly, everyone wants the memoirs -- and Matthau -- suppressed, with extreme prejudice. And the chase is on.
If you're looking for fast action, gun battles, car chases, and Matrix-style special effects, look elsewhere. But if you want a smart, talky, brilliantly plotted and performed romantic thriller-comedy, Hopscotch is a sure bet. Well, I'd love to continue this review, but I'm getting a sudden urge to watch Hopscotch again, for the umpteenth time.
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Format: DVD
HOPSCOTCH (Criterion) from 1980 is a light-weight, cynical but entertaining take on Cold War shenanigans. Walter Matthau is at the top of his form as Miles Kendig, a sardonic CIA agent who, suddenly relegated to a desk job in an agency power play, announces plans to get even by publishing a tell-all book. Ned Beatty is Matthau's arrogant, crude, boss who is increasingly desperate to off Matthau before the book gets out. (By a fluke, there was just such a book that made big news after this film went into production!)
Sunny, globe trotting locations from Atlanta to Berlin to Vienna and laid back direction from Ronald Neame are a big plus, but what makes this a worthy consideration for your digital library is the classy chemistry between Matthau and Glenda Jackson, who plays Matthau's Viennese lover. Remember their near-perfect pairing in 1978's House Calls? It's as good if not better here. The widescreen transfer is super crisp and there's a fun interview with Neame and author Brian Garfield.
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Format: DVD
Off the top of your head, how many funny spy films can you think of? The James Colburn 'Flint' films of the 60's? The Austin Powers movies perhaps? Or that incredibly lame Leslie Nielsen film...Spy Hard (1996)? Over-the-top silliness seems to be a common theme in these films, but Hopscotch (1980), based on a book written by Brian Garfield, also a comedy involving spies, manages to rise above, avoiding the slapsticky and crude humor, rather providing a charming and intelligent story that entertains throughout. Directed by Ronald Neame (Prudence and the Pill, The Poseidon Adventure, The Odessa File), the film stars a wonderful and accomplished cast of actors including Walter Matthau, Glenda Jackson, Sam Waterston, Herbert Lom, and Ned Beatty.
Matthau plays Miles Kendig, one of the CIA's top field agents who suddenly finds himself relegated to a desk job after control of the department he works for is taken over by a petty, vindictive, and less than capable man named Myerson (Beatty) who seems to harbor a personal grudge against Kendig. Unable to deal with riding his career out behind a desk, Kendig leaves the agency, and, after much thought, decides to write his memoirs, detailing all kinds of juicy, sensitive stuff about not only his own agency, but also intelligence agencies throughout the world. After being in the biz for thirty years, he certainly has the inside scoop on all kinds of things, causing his former boss to put out the order for his termination, elimination, liquidation, extermination, what have you...with the aid of a wealthy widow and love interest named Isobel who was also once in the game, played by Jackson, Kendig begins leading his former colleagues on a chase that spans halfway around the globe, always managing to stay one or two steps ahead.
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Format: DVD
This is an amazing movie and many will not even know it exists but I saw it on tv and found it on dvd. It is about a spy who gets disrespected from his superior and he decides to retire and write his memoirs and telling stuff he probably shouldn't. He leads a merry chase around the world as they try to find him and stop him from releasing his memoirs. He shows he is the master spy and no one can catch him unless he wants to be caught. He wins the game. Incredibly funny movie - highly recommend it.
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Format: DVD
Funny, enjoyable well written fluff. Glenda Jackson is perfect, and Walter Matthau is delightfully malicious to the point that everyone is after him regardless of political or country affiliation.
I did want to address the problem some people have playing this DVD. Some DVD players have trouble recognizing and playing discs that are encoded Region Free or Region 0 . I bought a copy of one for a friend, It wouldn't play on his machine but played perfectly on mine. Go figure. It's all the MPAA's fault for insisting on all this regional encoding business in the first place to force someone to pay a premium for another copy of something they may already own just because they've moved country. While living in the UK circa 2000 to 2005 most players newly produced for the British market during those years played North American NTSC Region 1 discs just fine and converted them on the fly to PAL for the televisions. Naturally they played the PAL Region 2 discs as well. This seems to indicate that it is a US Movie Industry generated problem, not an inherent one when different types of broadcast standards meet. When I returned I had to buy a special player at a premium in order to play the discs bought while living in the UK. The films easily available in the UK but not available in the US or Canada have made it a good investment.
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