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The Little Drummer Girl (1984)

R  |   |  Thriller  |  19 October 1984 (USA)
6.1
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Ratings: 6.1/10 from 1,447 users  
Reviews: 25 user | 6 critic

An American Actress with a penchant for lying is forceably recruited by Mosad, the Israeli intelligence agency to trap a Palestinian bomber, by pretending to be the girlfriend of his dead brother.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Charlie
...
Joseph
...
Martin Kurtz
Sami Frey ...
Khalil
...
Tayeh
...
Litvak
Ben Levine ...
Dimitri
...
Teddy
Shlomit Hagoel ...
Rose
Juliano Mer-Khamis ...
Julio (as Juliano Mer)
Sabi Dorr ...
Ben
Doron Nesher ...
David
Smadar Brener ...
Toby
Shoshi Marciano ...
Rachel
Philipp Moog ...
Aaron
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Storyline

A Palestinian bomber has killed an Israeli diplomat and his family and the Israeli plot to neutralise him becomes convoluted as they select an American Actress (Charlie) to impersonate the Bomber's brother's girlfriend after the Israeli's capture and kill the brother. Charlie is placed into a world where she begins being an actress, then becomes a spy, then is trained by the Palestinians as a guerrilla and finally is sent to deliver a bomb. She is chronically confused by how far she is really supposed to go in her impersonations and how much of herself she must give up. From the book by John Le Carre Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

She will become their most deadly weapon. As long as they can make her fall in love.

Genres:

Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 October 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Garota do Tambor  »

Box Office

Gross:

$7,800,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Writer John le Carré based the central character of Charlie on his half-sister Charlotte Cornwell and originally hoped that she would play the character, too. See more »

Quotes

Marty Kurtz: Where would you have us go Charlie? Maybe you would prefer us to take a piece of Central Africa or Uruguay? Not Egypt, thank you, we tried that once and it was not a success. Or back to the ghettos?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Lethal Woman (1988) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Great spy story, bizarre main character
21 March 2003 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Professional intelligence case workers appeal to four principal motives to recruit their agents: Money, Ideology, Compromise (meaning blackmail), and Ego, sometimes referred to by the acronym MICE. In THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL, we see a fifth motive used: Screenwriter's Fiat.

Charlie, a little pro-Palestinian Jane Fonda wannabe, is kidnapped by the Israeli Mossad, humiliated, and offered the job of spying on Palestinian terrorists. She accepts because, um, because, well, the screenwriter says so. Okay, so there's a vague effort to make us believe that Charlie's in love with one of the Mossad agents, but since her attraction to him was based entirely on the belief that he was a romantic, dashing leader of the Palestinian `revolution,' there's no basis for her to continue being attracted to him once she learns he's a spy for the Israelis whom she hates.

I'm not sure any woman in the world is quite so easily manipulated as Charlie in this movie. If such a woman really exists anywhere, why on earth would anyone want her as an intelligence agent? Anyone who can be convinced to change sides that easily once can surely be convinced to do so a second time. You wouldn't dare let her out of your sight for ten seconds, and as for allowing her to join a Palestinian terrorist training camp, where she'd be out of sight and in the presence of her old friends for months on end, forget about it. It's absurd. If I were politically correct, I would call it a misogynist movie, but that would probably be unfair. There's no evidence that director George Roy Hill imagined Charlie's weakness and stupidity to be typical of all women.

It's a shame that Charlie is neither a believable nor a likeable heroine, because in every other respect THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL is a great spy movie. I can't say precisely how realistic it is technically, but it feels authentic at every turn. The brutal interrogations of the captured terrorist, and the intense multilayered surveillance of Charlie ring very true. There's no one-man-army James Bond crap here; the Israelis assign a full squad of spies to every job. More importantly it gives us the psychological feel of the espionage profession. The stock in trade of professional spies is the betrayal of loyalty and the abuse of friendship. Naturally, this does not make for likeable characters, however much one may admire the cause for which they work. Hill does not attempt to sugarcoat this; he shows it to us as it is.

Diane Keaton should not be blamed for failing to make her ridiculous character convincing; she is clearly doing the best she can, and quite probably the best that anyone could have. Klaus Kinski steals every scene he gets as Mossad master agent Marty Kurtz. David Suchet gets a fine small role as a terrorist thug.

THE LITTLE DRUMMER GIRL is a fine example of how outstanding supporting performances, dedication, and sincerity (you rarely find movies this honest in Hollywood anymore) can rescue a movie whose protagonist is badly written. It's not half the movie it could have been, but it's a good movie anyway.

Rating: **½ out of ****.

Recommendation: See it on video or DVD with your friends.


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