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Hopscotch (The Criterion Collection)


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Editorial Reviews

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.

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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

Special Features

  • New transfer
  • Video introduction featuring interviews with director Ronald Neame and novelist and screenwriter Brian Garfield
  • Optional broadcast television audio track for family viewing

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: Multiple Formats, Closed-captioned, Color, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Criterion
  • DVD Release Date: August 20, 2002
  • Run Time: 106 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (331 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JL3W
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,577 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hopscotch (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

73 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Dumb Ox on November 4, 2002
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
We saw this movie back in the early 1980's and loved it, but by the time we tried to get a copy, it had gone out of print. Many thanks to Criterion for releasing it on DVD! This film is superb, well-written and directed, with a cast of very gifted performers. The actors play their roles to the hilt and have a terrific chemistry onscreen.
The plot is basic revenge, perpetrated on the CIA by one of its top operatives. Walter Matthau plays the amiable Kendig, a man who's served in the field for decades and is an excellent agent. He's smart yet still down-to-earth; his reputation among the underworld of spydom is the stuff of legends. Kendig is respected even by his enemies for his savvy decisions and sense of fair play, and his reluctance to resort to dirty tricks. His new boss, Meyerson (Ned Beatty) resents his underling's popularity and decides to neutralize Kendig's effectiveness by yanking him from the field and assigning him to a desk job as a file clerk.
To say that Kendig despises his new boss would be a gross understatement. A switched file is shredded and Kendig vanishes, fleeing to Austria and his lover Isobel (Glenda Jackson). From there, he nurses his wounds and launches on his vengeance against Meyerson and the CIA by writing a book that reveals the agency's dirty tricks and botched missions. Meyerson is livid and assigns Joe Cutter (Sam Waterston) to put a stop to Kendig by any means necessary, especially assassination. Cutter admires Kendig and is torn by his personal feelings for the man and his desire to serve his country.
The story then twists and turns as Kendig leads his former employers on a huge wild goose chase.
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78 of 82 people found the following review helpful By cookieman108 on July 14, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Lyle D. on October 30, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
I hope the studio releases Hopscotch on video or DVD soon. It's one of Walter Matthau's best films, and the rest of the cast (Glenda Jackson, Ned Beatty, Sam Waterston) are all in top form in this story of an ex-CIA agent getting revenge on his boss. This 1980 comedy would be a welcome addition to anyone's collection of spy, Walter Matthau, or comedy video/DVD's. The way Matthau's character uses an old World War One bi-plane to elude his ex-boss (played by Beatty) harkens back to his performance in Charley Varrick (1973).
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Victor A. Vyssotsky on February 15, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
"Hopscotch" is one of my favorite movies. Based on a novel by Brian Garfield (who also worked on the screenplay), it's a perfect vehicle for Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson; I consider it to be Matthau's best performance.
Although the plot is totally implausible, it carries the viewer along. I think this is largely because the real world of "intelligence" is sometimes equally implausible; everyone who has had even an indirect connection with the intelligence community can relate true stories just as wacky as the episodes in this movie. Almost all of the movie is pure invention, but Garfield must have known something about the CIA; in particular, one of the characters is an extremely unflattering takeoff on Richard Bissell, including a reference to one of Bissell's worst ideas.
Unfortunately, a copy of this video is hard to find for sale. But many video rental stores have a copy for rent. I wish the copyright holders would allow it to be re-released on video; perhaps some day they will. Meanwhile, if you can locate a copy, buy it; if not, rent it!
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Hopscotch (The Criterion Collection)
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