Miles Kendig knows too much. One of the CIAs 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 cooperatehes having too much fun. Based on Brian Garfields best-selling novel, and starring the inimitable comic team of Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, Ronald Neames 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