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.


Ronald Neame


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





Cast overview, first billed only:
Walter Matthau ... Miles Kendig
Glenda Jackson ... Isobel von Schönenberg
Sam Waterston ... Joe Cutter
Ned Beatty ... G.P. Myerson
Herbert Lom ... Mikhail Yaskov
David Matthau David Matthau ... Leonard Ross
George Baker ... Parker Westlake
Ivor Roberts Ivor Roberts ... Ludlum
Lucy Saroyan Lucy Saroyan ... Carla
Severn Darden ... Maddox
George Pravda ... Saint Breheret
Jacquelyn Hyde ... Realtor
Mike Gwilym Mike Gwilym ... Alfie Booker
Terry Beaver Terry Beaver ... Tobin
Ray Charleson Ray Charleson ... Clausen


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. See more »


Adventure | Comedy


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


The National Broadcasting Company bought the television rights to this film for $4,000,000 - a huge sum at the time - with the stipulation that the fee would go higher if the picture was a hit at the box office. See more »


When Kendig puts on his reading glasses in Myerson's office to examine the photos on the wall close up, he looks over the glasses rather than through the lenses to view the pictures. There's no point in putting on glasses if you're just going to look over them. 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 »

Alternate Versions

DVD version contains both the original theatrical soundtrack and a redubbed soundtrack used for television release (replacing profanity and other objectionable dialogue). See more »


Referenced in Pulp Fiction (1994) See more »


Once A Night
Written by Jackie English and Beverly Bremers
See more »

User Reviews

There's nothing wrong with aiming low and hitting the mark perfectly...a charmer
22 April 2011 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Hopscotch (1980)

A lightweight, enjoyable entertainment about an aging spy who has fun going renegade in his final weeks.

I have to admit I liked the movie for the congeniality of Walter Matthau. While not as zany (and original) as the much earlier "Charade" (also with Matthau), "Hopscotch" shares a lot of the feel of that movie, with villains who aren't quite villainous, and a leading man who is part bumbling and part a step ahead of the game. The supporting cast is fun, though just barely--both of the key CIA guys after our hero are good actors at their best, but they are not at their best here, especially Sam Waterston in a wishy-washy role. Most peculiar of all, and almost scotch-taped into both the plot and the casting, is very British and very different actress Glenda Jackson, a former spy who chips in as needed, and plays a growing role as things proceed.

British director Ronald Neame (who directed "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" and "The Odessa File") is completely in charge here, making the most of a middling script that uses well worn or barely surprising twists and gags to keep a potentially violent espionage film from ever leaving light comedy. Because in fact the pace is consistent and the filming (under the eye of Arthur Ibbeteson, also British) is completely fine, if nothing to write home about. In fact, this feels like high budget British television, which is something different than pure Hollywood. Or it might feel like 1960 Hollywood widescreen with minor updates--not including the 1960s Hollywood star, Mr. Matthau.

But it is Matthau's movie, fortunately. He can be a convincing bumpkin and a warm hearted fellow, and he can be clever beneath his seeming simplicity. All of this is an advantage here, and you are completely on his side as he thwarts, with winks and tricks, the supposedly superior forces of a full press CIA assault. Expect some fun, and you won't be disappointed.

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English | German | French | Russian | Italian

Release Date:

10 October 1980 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

Hopscotch See more »

Filming Locations:

Marseille, France See more »


Box Office


$9,500,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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