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(aka "Bluff Poker" )

 

directed by Ronald Neame
USA 1980

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.

***

 

"Hopscotch" is a shaggy-dog thriller that never really thrills us very much, but leaves a nice feeling when it's over. That's partly because of the way Walter Matthau fools around with dialogue until he wears it well, and partly because the movie's shot at a measured, civilized, whimsical pace. It's a strange thing to say about a thriller, but "Hopscotch" is . . . pleasant.

The movie's based on a best seller by Brian Garfield, the author of Death Wish, and his hero once again is a guy who single-handedly takes on the establishment. But while the Charles Bronson character in "Death Wish" hunts down and kills muggers, the Matthau character in "Hopscotch" mostly wants to toy with his enemies - to frustrate them with his superior cunning.

Excerpt of review from Roger Ebert located HERE

Posters

Theatrical Release: September 26th, 1980 (New York)

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DVD Review: The Criterion Collection (Spine # 163) - Region 0 - NTSC

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Distribution

The Criterion Collection

Region 0 - NTSC

Runtime 1:45:24
Video

2.35:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.12 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
Subtitles English, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: The Criterion Collection

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 2.35:1

Edition Details:
• Video introduction featuring interviews with director Ronald Neame and novelist and screenwriter Brian Garfield (21:50)
• Original theatrical trailer and teaser
• The original television audio track, remixed for family viewing, presented as an alternate audio track

DVD Release Date: August 20th, 2002
Keep Case

Chapters 14

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Comments

I can remember that when Ronald Neame's "Hopscotch" was first announced for release by the Criterion Collection, the internet communities that kept track of such things met it with a decidedly unenthusiastic response. Well, that's not exactly true. Instead they screamed bloody murder. I was more than a bit dumbfounded by this at the time. Having only seen a few Neame films, I had a generally warm opinion of his work and even regarded "The Horse's Mouth" as brilliant. Additionally, the film stars the incomparable Walter Matthau. Where could it go wrong, I wondered? While, sadly my expectations came up short. It's not a particularly good movie. But neither is it the monstrosity that certain hyperbolic parties made it out to be. It's a fun enough film if you're in the right mood, but it'll never be mistaken for cinematic art.

Hopscotch’s anamorphic transfers looks surprisingly good for its age and date of production. To be sure, it’s far from perfect but it does have a high degree of clarity. However, there is some inconsistency in the grain. On one extreme appearances can sometimes look slightly glossy, but other scenes can have a slight amount of noise. There’s also a number of noticeable instances of damage, but on the whole there isn’t much to complain about here.

As per Criterion policy of the day, the disc comes with a competent, but uninspiring English language Dolby Digital 1.0 track. There really are no problems to speak of (dialogue is clear, no background noises), but just don't expect to be wowed by it. Optional English subtitles are also included.

Aside from another one of their famous booklets, the diss's main extra is an introduction to the film by Neame and Brian Garfield, the author of the book that the film was based on. Both obviously have a great deal to say about the film, and anyone interested in "Hopscotch" will surely enjoy the introduction as well. Aside from a pair of trailers, the only other extra is the TV edit of the film. If curse words offend you, then this cut is for you.

Overall, this is not one of Criterion's strongest releases, but it's far from the apocalyptic auguring of Criterion's greatness that many predicted it would be. Those interested may want to check it out.

  - Brian Montgomery

 



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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

Distribution

The Criterion Collection

Region 0 - NTSC

 




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