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The Defection of Simas Kudirka (1978)

TV Movie  |   |  Drama  |  23 January 1978 (USA)
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Based on the true story of the attempted defection in 1970 by a Lithuanian seaman seeking political asylum in the United States. Kudirka was denied asylum and returned to the Soviets, ... See full summary »



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Title: The Defection of Simas Kudirka (TV Movie 1978)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Simas Kudirka
Commander Edward Devon
Captain Vladimir Popov
Phillip Chadway
Genna Kudirka
Marvin Silbersher ...
Commander Burkalis
Peter Evans ...
Barton Heyman ...
Dr. Paegle
Salem Ludwig ...
Assistant Supervisor
Donald Warnock ...
Stender (as Don Warnock Jr.)


Based on the true story of the attempted defection in 1970 by a Lithuanian seaman seeking political asylum in the United States. Kudirka was denied asylum and returned to the Soviets, charged with treason, and sentenced to ten years of hard labor. It was later discovered and verified that his mother had been born in Brooklyn and gone to Lithuania at a young age, which meant she was a U. S. citizen. As a result, Kudirka was declared a U. S. citizen and in 1974 released by the Soviets. Written by Steve Bulota

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Release Date:

23 January 1978 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La deserción de Simas Kudirka  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


During Mr. Chadway's yelling in his officer of what has happened, for over five seconds, we can see what appears to be the boom mic hanging just in frame overhead. A couple minutes later when letting some guests in, on the left, upward, we can see what appears to be another piece of filming equipment. See more »


Commander Edward Devon: Where is he?
[running up some steps; an officer opens up a door to what appears to be a closet]
Simas Kudirka: Hello! I am here! Thank you!
See more »

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User Reviews

Cold War Drama at Sea
20 December 2004 | by (Washington DC) – See all my reviews

The Defection of Simas Kudirka is a made-for television movie based on the actual defection of a Lithuanian sailor to a U.S. Coast Guard cutter in 1970. Simas Kudirka, played by Alan Arkin, jumps ship only to be returned to the Soviet ship by force. After spending time in a Soviet prison, Kudirka is allowed to immigrate to the United States after it is learned that his mother was born in New York.

The movie nicely details the political and military ramifications from the fallout of one of the most shameful episodes in Coast Guard history. I was a sailor on board one of the two Coast Guard cutters involved in the filming of the movie in 1977. The movie was filmed in Portsmouth, NH, the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery Maine, and off the coast of New Hampshire and southern Maine. The final scene shows Simas Kudirka (Arkin) and his wife Genna (Shirley Knight) reviewing the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Vigilant, the ship onto which Kudirka jumped. The actual ship shown in the movie was the USCGC Decisive at its home port of New Castle, NH.

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