Rollover (1981)

R  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Romance  |  11 December 1981 (USA)
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Reviews: 19 user | 7 critic

An Arab oil organization devises a plan to wreck the world economy in order to cause anarchy and chaos.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Hubbell Smith
Maxwell Emery
Roy Lefcourt
Sal Naftari
Jerry Fewster
Ron Frazier ...
Gil Hovey
Betsy Okamoto
Crocker Nevin ...
Warner Ackerman
Marvin Chatinover ...
Henry Lipscomb
Ira Wheeler ...
Mr. Whitelaw (as Ira B. Wheeler)
Paul Hecht ...
Norman Snow ...
Nelly Hoyos ...
Sally Sockwell ...
Mrs. Fewster


An Arab oil organization devises a plan to wreck the world economy in order to cause anarchy and chaos.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The most erotic thing in their world was money.


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

11 December 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Das Rollover-Komplott  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The fifth film made by Jane Fonda's production company IPC Films. See more »


Maxwell Emery: Listen me out! Money, capital, has a life of its own. It's a force of the nature like gravity, like the oceans, it flows where it wants to flow. This whole thing with the Arabs and gold is inevitable, we're just going with the tide. The only question is whether you wanna let it go like an unguided missile and raise hell or whether you wanna keep it in the hands of responsible people, keep it channable, keep it quiet.
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Featured in Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People (2006) See more »

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User Reviews

An uneven and unusual thriller worth watching.
30 January 2006 | by (Syracuse, New York) – See all my reviews

This is an unusual film: an adult thriller about the danger of fiscal manipulation. It's also unusual in that it remains relevant, perhaps even more so than when it was released; no less a person than renowned investor Warren Buffet has recently been warning of the dangers of having so much U.S. debt held by countries whose political agendas may not always require a stable or strong U.S. economy.

But is it a good film? With some reservations, I would argue that it is. Director Alan Pakula and cinematographer Giuseppe Rotunno have done a very good job of shadowing the action; rarely does anything take place in strong light, and then almost always when the action either involves the Saudis (the first meeting between the cartel and Lee Winters, played by Jane Fonda, for example) or serves their interests (e.g. the death of bank inspector Mr. Fewster). The locations, large and small, take on their own lives; the World Trade Center becomes a monolithic anthill, and there is a wonderfully ominous shot of the arrangement for Lee Winters's death being made by two men amid a crowd on a descending escalator which captures powerfully the essential isolation of the individual amid the crowds, and thus wordlessly encapsulates the underlying political concern of the film. The 720 degree pan just before the film's ambiguous coda is a marvel, one of those things which looks quite simple until one realizes the amount of work that must have gone into making it work smoothly.

The performances are solid if a bit uneven. Hume Cronyn as the amoral main banker is superb, and Macon McCalman does a fine job as Fewster, a man who has gone in far beyond his depth and knows it. Fonda and Kristofferson (playing Hub Smith) are at their respective bests when portraying the manipulative sides of the characters, and less convincing in the romantic scenes (which aren't very plausible to begin with). Fonda's bleak expression when she thinks she realizes that Hub is betraying her is striking, and her reaction to the attempt on her life is completely persuasive. Kris Kristofferson seems rather stolid at first, until we realize that he is portraying a man from whom virtually all emotional capability has been leached by his dedication to success in his career; significantly, the most passionate sex scene takes place immediately after the success of a fiscal gamble of enormous proportions.

The screenplay handles the difficult task of dramatizing monetary transactions well; it is less effective when portraying the love scenes, especially the initial motivation for the central affair. But the climactic confrontation between Hume Cronyn and Kris Kristofferson is spot on; rarely does a character reveal moral bankruptcy as starkly as does Cronyn's, yet his words and his delivery both demonstrate his utter unawareness of the truth about himself. Indeed, the script generally manages to be both clear (albeit complex, requiring attention) and straightforward without becoming preachy or overly didactic.

The music is easily the weakest part of the film (in fact, I almost gave this a 7 based on the music alone). The opening credits are backed by one of the most insipid things I've heard in a long time, a ditzy little number that recurs regularly to no good effect, and the love music (intentionally?) conveys little of passion or even intense feeling. The music for menacing scenes has more character, but appears only intermittently, and not always when it's most needed. This score has dated badly, and undercuts the film's impact considerably.

But all things considered, I still enjoyed this, and recommend it to those looking for something offbeat (and, like Pakula's "All the President's Men", somewhat deliberately paced, though I find this one slightly better overall). It's a rare film in that it almost always treats its viewers as adults capable of giving it a fair chance, yet it is structured, and often plays, like a traditional mystery thriller. But the plot is not all here; the film's unspoken message is worth hearing, and heeding, as well: that when we allow the possession and manipulation of things to take precedence over human needs, we run the risk of becoming nothing but things ourselves.

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