Picks and Pans Review: Hopscotch

updated 11/17/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/17/1980 AT 01:00 AM EST

The travel budget for this comedy thriller must have been seven figures, what with location work in Austria, Germany and England and the U.S. Thanks to a crafty performance by Walter Matthau, however, the finished product is more than just travelogue. With his gigantic jowls, basset-hound eyes and shambling walk, Matthau makes an unlikely CIA agent; yet he carries it off. (Early in his career he successfully played a straight CIA role in Charade.) Relegated to a desk job, a disgruntled Matthau retaliates by sending his unpublished memoirs to the Russians and Chinese. The CIA, of course, is soon on his track, but blustery Ned Beatty, as the CIA director, is always one step behind. As in House Calls, Matthau teams with Glenda Jackson, and the curious match-up works again. Director Ronald (The Poseidon Adventure) Neame wisely leaves Matthau to his own devices and changes the venue often enough to simulate action. As spy flicks go, the suspense is strictly routine but Matthau makes it an agreeable experience. (R)

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