22 user 3 critic

The Amateur (1981)

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A researcher for the CIA who convinces his superiors to send him to the eastern bloc in order to avenge the murder of his wife by enemy agents discovers a web of deception underneath his ... See full summary »


Charles Jarrott


Robert Littell (novel), Robert Littell (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
10 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
John Savage ... Charles Heller
Christopher Plummer ... Professor Lakos
Marthe Keller ... Elisabeth
Arthur Hill ... Brewer
Nicholas Campbell ... Schraeger
George Coe ... Rutledge
John Marley ... Molton
Jan Rubes ... Kaplan
Ed Lauter ... Anderson
Miguel Fernandes ... Botaro
Jan Tríska ... Rodzenko
Graham Jarvis ... Porter
Jacques Godin ... Argus
Chapelle Jaffe ... Gretchen
Lynne Griffin ... Sarah


A researcher for the CIA who convinces his superiors to send him to the eastern bloc in order to avenge the murder of his wife by enemy agents discovers a web of deception underneath his wife's death. Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


At 29, Charles Heller was a mathematician without equal. At the CIA, he was a computer expert without peer. But when terrorists murdered the most important woman in his life, he became an assassin without experience. To avenge her death, the CIA trained him, briefed him, armed him, and then...they abandoned him. The first 11 minutes will absolutely shock you. The last 11 minutes will rivet you to your seat. See more »


Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Release Date:

12 February 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

L'homme de Prague See more »


Box Office


CAD 10,600,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of two spy films that director Charles Jarrott made in 1981. The other was Condorman (1981). See more »


Kaplan: I lost my first wife, my first family. Two beautiful little girls. In the war, in the camps. I thought for a long time the loss would kill me but, I survived.
Charles Heller: How?
Kaplan: By creating a ritual to keep me alive. To survive the death of people close to you, you need a ritual. A ritual for revenge is what I made. I thought about it and planned it every waking moment. When I got out I spent three years tracking down the doctor who sent them to the camps.
Charles Heller: Did you fing him?
Kaplan: I found him, yes.
Charles Heller: What did... what...
See more »

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User Reviews

Spy story about a vendetta behind the Iron Curtain full of plot twists and thrills
22 May 2009 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

This spy/action/thriller concerns about a CIA computer analyst named Heller(John Savage) , when his girlfriend encounters traveling across Europe, she's suddenly kidnapped in an Embassy by a terrorist group , a Baader Mainhoff-alike, and is shot by the leader named Brewer (Nicholas Campbell). Then Heller seeks vengeance, and contacts to girlfriend's father(Jan Rubes). Later obligates his CIA superiors(Arthur Hill,George Coe), under threat blackmail(to publish it a journalist played by John Marley) , for becoming CIA camp agent trained by a veteran(Ed Lauter) and to send him to the Communist Bloc countries . In Czechoslovakia he unites forces to Cia agent(Marthe Keller) and is pursued by a contra-espionage chief(Christopher Plummer) in Praga. Meanwhile Heller investigates and aware a cobweb of lies underneath the company.

This exciting film gets tension, suspense, action ,mystery and a bit of violence, however sometimes in a little confused and embarrassing . Mediocre screenplay with some gaps by Robert Littell and based on his novel. The movie belongs to ¨Cold war genre¨ , whose maxim height were the John Le Carre novels and his various cinematic adaptations such as ¨The spy who came in freeze, The Kremlin letter and Russia House¨.Suspenseful musical score and colorful cinematography filmed in streets of Vienna(lookalike Praga) and interior scenarios shot in Canadian studios. The movie was a flop though is today better considered, in fact Leonard Matlin rated it as 'Bomb'. The motion picture is professionally directed by Charles Jarrot. He has an eclectic career as TV as cinema with a plethora of success(Anne of the thousands days, Mary of Scots) and failures at the box office(Condorman, Last flight of Noah's Ark, Amateur). Rating : Passable and acceptable.

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