Watch Now: HOPSCOTCH
In 1975, American novelist and screenwriter Brian Garfield published a novel called Hopscotch, a cynical story of a CIA field officer who leaves the Agency and decides to write a memoir and mail its chapters to all the major intelligence agencies around the world, thereby challenging the CIA to come and stop him. The popular novel received the Edgar Award, and five years later ended up on the big screen under the same name. But the tone shifted, and Hopscotch, the movie, was made as one of the most interesting comedies of the decade.
Directed by Ronald Neame and written by Bryan Forbes and Garfield himself, Hopscotch stars Walter Matthau, Sam Waterston and Ned Beatty. The visible shift in tone happened precisely because of Matthau: he agreed to star in the adaptation if Garfield rewrote the initial script to play more to the actor’s comedic strengths. “It’s a strange thing to say about a thriller,” Roger Ebert commented, “but Hopscotch is… pleasant.” A smart comedy camouflaged as an espionage thriller, well-acted and nicely paced, Hopscotch remains a genuinely original and enjoyable piece of filmmaking.