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Grounded with a desk job by incompetent superiors, a clever CIA agent retires and writes a tell all memoir that will embarrass his bosses, prompting him to go on the run and elude them.



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
David Matthau ...
Ivor Roberts ...
Lucy Saroyan ...
Severn Darden ...
George Pravda ...
Saint Breheret
Jacquelyn Hyde ...
Mike Gwilym ...
Terry Beaver ...
Ray Charleson ...


CIA agent Miles Kendig decides to get out of 'the game' and to ensure he's left alone he threatens to send his memoirs to the world's intelligence agencies. When the CIA doesn't believe him, he calls their bluff and starts writing and sending out chapters one by one. Realizing that their operations would be compromised, the CIA (led by Myerson and Cutter) set out to put an end to Kendig's plan by whatever means necessary. The heart of the movie follows a game of cat and mouse between a fumbling CIA and an artful Kendig. Written by P. Wong <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The most dangerous man in the world. He's about to expose the CIA, the FBI, the KGB...and himself.


Adventure | Comedy


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

10 October 1980 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

2 sotto il divano  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Oktoberfest scene at the beginning of the film was not staged. The filmmakers hid cameras to prevent people from knowing they were being filmed. See more »


The Mrs. Myerson's voice in the two phone calls is different from that of actress Anne Haney who actually plays the part in a later scene. See more »


[first lines]
Kendig: Hey Yaskov, how are ya?
Yaskov: Kendig. What as unexpected pleasure.
Kendig: May I have it please?
Yaskov: Have what?
Kendig: I got it all on film, Yaskov. You don't want to deal with the West Germans, they don't like Russian Intelligence, you know that. Just give it to me, and we'll forget all about it.
Yaskov: I could make a run for it, you know.
Kendig: Come on, Yaskov. You running, me chasing? We'd look like Laurel and Hardy.
See more »


References Casablanca (1942) See more »


Once A Night
Written by Jackie English and Beverly Bremers
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User Reviews

One of Matthau's most overlooked and best movies
27 January 2002 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

This movie is Walter Matthau at his best. The easy way he shoves it to his boss, Ned Beatty, at the CIA when he's put behind a desk is a joy. The twists and turns of just how he goes about this keep the movie moving and interesting. You want him to get away with it while humiliating the agency at every turn. He gets excellent from then wife Glenda Jackson and a young Sam Waterston. Too bad it's not available on DVD as the VHS tape isn't wide screen and isn't a great transfer.

11 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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