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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
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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.
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.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
It is a good movie that stands that is still interesting to watch.Published 2 months ago by Happy Customer
Loved the movie. As per any Walter Matthau movie it was full of laughs and the storyline was very enjoyable. Definitely a movie worth watching again.Published 10 months ago by Sherry
One of my favorite Walter Matthau Films/ With a Great Cast and a fun Story...Published 20 months ago by Ron Miller
This movie was great fun with Matthau at his best. Don't waste your time on the book. Spend your money on the movie. Read morePublished on July 18 2014 by Robert D Forrest
This DVD doesn't play on North American machines. Really. So why on earth is this being sold on Amazon.CA? Makes no sense.Published on Feb. 10 2014 by Bowman
Classic and funny. I could watch this movie again and again. I would highly recommend this movie to anyone, and especially to Matthau fans.Published on Jan. 3 2014 by Matt