Hopscotch (1980, Ronald Neame)

A really lighthearted spy romp, in which forced-into-retirement secret agent Walter Matthau spends some time with his girl Glenda Jackson (of a string of Ken Russell movies) and decides to write a tell-all book about the agency while his former bosses, led by humorless Ned Beatty (con man Hoover in Wise Blood), try to locate and possibly kill him. In typical PG-rated 1980’s style, Ned fails and is repeatedly humiliated, and Matthau (who proves himself awful at accents, languages and disguises) escapes detection despite having a bestselling book with his picture on the cover.

How spies work:

Stately Glenda:

KGB Chief Herbert Lom (known for the Pink Panther series) joins in the chase towards the end, along with sympathetic CIA guy Sam Waterston (simultaneously of Heaven’s Gate). Matthau rents his ex-boss’s house in Adairsville GA (wooo!) and arranges to have it destroyed. There are some plots that rely on perfect timing and coincidence, as in all spy movies, but it’s a well-meaning little movie, so I was rooting for it.

Matthau’s son, Lom, Beatty and Waterson:

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