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The Osterman Weekend (1983)

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During the Cold War, a controversial TV journalist is asked by the CIA to persuade certain acquaintances, who are Soviet agents of the Omega network, to defect.

Director:

Sam Peckinpah

Writers:

Robert Ludlum (novel), Ian Masters (adaptation) | 1 more credit »
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2 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Rutger Hauer ... John Tanner
John Hurt ... Lawrence Fassett
Craig T. Nelson ... Bernard Osterman
Dennis Hopper ... Richard Tremayne
Chris Sarandon ... Joseph Cardone
Meg Foster ... Ali Tanner
Helen Shaver ... Virginia Tremayne
Cassie Yates ... Betty Cardone
Sandy McPeak ... Walter Stennings
Christopher Starr Christopher Starr ... Steve Tanner
Burt Lancaster ... Maxwell Danforth
Cheryl Carter Cheryl Carter ... Marcia Heller
John Bryson John Bryson ... Honeymoon Groom
Anne Haney ... Honeymoon Bride
Kristen Peckinpah Kristen Peckinpah ... Tremayne's Secretary
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Storyline

In this adaptation of the 'Robert Ludlum' (q.v) novel, the host of an investigative news programme has been convinced by the C.I.A. that the friends and associates he's invited to weekend with him in the country, are actually engaged in a nefarious conspiracy which threatens national security, Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The one weekend of the year you won't want to miss. See more »

Genres:

Action | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

4 November 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Osterman-Weekend See more »

Filming Locations:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$301,129, 23 October 1983, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$6,486,797
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut)

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to David Weddle's book on Peckinpah, "If They Move, Kill 'Em", despite the extensive surveillance sequences and Peckinpah's declining health, the film wrapped production on January 17, 1983, on time and on budget. See more »

Goofs

When Tanner is warning the others to get out of the camper, he writes "Get out now". Richard is reading it aloud as "Get out of the camper now". See more »

Quotes

Lawrence Fassett: Think of them as fleas on a dog hit by a car driven by a drunken teenager whose girlfriend just gave him the clap. It will help you sense of perspective.
See more »

Alternate Versions

On the Anchor Bay DVD release there is a rough cut made by Sam Peckinpah which he made showed to the test audience. Because the majority of the audience walked out, from the imfamous sex between Fassett and his wife. The producer wanted Peckinpah to cut the scene out. Once he refuse to made the cuts, he got fired. Other scenes. 1) The sex scene is more extended and shot more wobbly to express how Fassett breaking point for revenge had started. 2) Delete scene of Osterman and Joe talking on the phone about their deal. 3) Extended scene of Virginia flirting with Dick on the phone. 4) There a deleted scene of John Tanner of having an affair with his director Marcia, there wakes up to find her dead. 5) The scene where Tanner and guest are arguing by the dinner table, in the theatrical cut Fassett switches on a Swiss ad, the Peckinpah's cut he has like a big image of Danforth. 6) Alterative ending is juxtapositioned between Tanner searching for his family and the TV studio. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: Operation Double 007 (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Spy Yarn Gets Too Tangled
22 May 2010 | by slokesSee all my reviews

It's Sam Peckinpah's last film, and as a fan of this brilliant, troubled man, I wanted it to be a good one to go out on. What I got instead is another of his problem pictures, an interesting premise and eye-raising performances done in by a loss of focus.

John Tanner (Rutger Hauer) is a TV interviewer given an unpleasant assignment by CIA operative Lawrence Fassett (John Hurt): Confront a group of college friends with evidence they are working for a KGB operative named Mikalovich. An array of videotapes provided by Fassett demonstrates their culpability to Tanner. So he sets to work, his home the setting for a prearranged weekend gathering. If it works, a live interview with CIA Director Maxwell Danforth (Burt Lancaster) will be his reward.

For Peckinpah, it was his first film in more than half-a-decade, and a chance to show he was still able to deliver a solid action film well after his gritty early-'70s peak. The CIA comes equipped with cool surveillance equipment and laser-sighted automatics. The Weekend itself, once it gets going, has a nice "Big Chill" vibe with paranoid undertones.

So what goes wrong?

It starts with a 40-minute intro that establishes the premise in clunky fashion. "I'm Cloak, you must be Dagger" Tanner says upon meeting Danforth, whom Lancaster plays with brio but not subtlety. "Being wrong is not nearly as important as not admitting it, not these days," he tells one Company weasel, and acts throughout as the kind of clod you wouldn't put in charge of a shoe store, let alone the CIA.

Then we get to the Weekend itself, with Tanner's college friends taking center stage. Each has their quirks. Osterman (Craig T. Nelson) is a very cool TV producer who describes himself as "a nihilistic anarchist who lives on residuals". Nelson is great fun, though the rest of the group, including Dennis Hopper, gets lost in the mix. Only Helen Shaver's turn as a coked-out floozy stands out, as much for her gratuitous nude scenes as for her entertaining freak outs.

Sappy lite-jazz music by Lalo Schifrin underscores a lack of suspense. Hauer's Dutch accent keeps creeping in like Nastassja Kinski's, and his fragile relationship with his bow-toting wife (Meg Foster) isn't developed any more than those with his once-merry, now-sullen Berkeley chums.

The actual jigsaw puzzle we get here is indifferently assembled and seems at end a few pieces short. At one point Tanner hears Osterman on tape tell his friends "Let's go to our friend John Tanner's house and set him up". Tanner doesn't take this kindly, reasonably enough, yet what Osterman may have meant is never explained. A lot of threads are pulled out this way only to be left floating in the breeze.

John Coquillon's cinematography does capture something the rest of the film flails at, a sense of mystery and foreboding. Hurt's tortured performance as Fassett is nicely underplayed, watching beady-eyed between sips of wine from a china cup as the gears shift into play. And Nelson does crack me up, as in one scene which finds him running for cover.

"It'd be nice if we had weapons!"

"We do!" he is told. "Bows!"

"Bows?" Osterman replies. "That's keen!"

In the end, we get a wrap-up lecture about the pervading influence of television and how this all was, as one character puts it, "just another episode in this snuff soap opera we're all in." Peckinpah supposedly hated this script, only using it because he needed the film, but I think those sad words represent his actual mindset all-too-well. Distrait, somewhat lethargic, and depressing, "The Osterman Weekend" gives us lots of clues but no answers as to where Sam fell off.


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