Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Hopscotch (1980)

Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson, need I say more?

How about telling you that this is a film that is probably the last (semi)serious spy drama where no one dies and where there is no real violence.

Okay yes, it has Ned Beatty in a role that has him spouting enough foul language to put the film in the running for the most creative use of certain four letter words, but the cleaned up TV track actually makes the film funnier.

The plot of the film has Matthau as Miles Kendig, a CIA operative in Europe getting into trouble when he refuses to bust the spy master of the KGB when he had the chance. Forced to take a desk job until retirement Kendig decides to run away and see an old flame played by Glenda Jackson. When she asks what he's going to do, write him memoirs, a light goes on and Kendig begins a nation hopping tour of the world with the spy agencies of every country after him.

This is one of my most treasured films. It makes me smile and makes me feel good. Its an odd ball movie that would never get made today because it doesn't have any sort of edge. There is no hip music, unless you think Mozart is hip. Worst of all its a romance about two people who are in late middle aged and one of which looks like a wrinkled hound dog.

Its wonderful.

How wonderful? I don't think I've ever met anyone who can genuinely say that they don't like it. Sure some people like it more than others, but its a film that pretty much everyone can enjoy. I think that had they not had Beatty go blue this film would probably be a family classic. Actually I think the language, while funny, is the films one weak point since its so out of character with everything else.

I can't recommend this enough. Its a wonderful life affirming comedy that not only has belly laughs but actually gets better as you see it again and again.

See this movie.

Its out on DVD. In the US its a Criterion release, which, while not possessing a ton of extras, is still worth picking up.

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