163 Hopscotch

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Martha
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163 Hopscotch

#1 Post by Martha » Tue Nov 02, 2004 11:07 pm

Hopscotch

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The inimitable comic team of Walter Matthau and Glenda Jackson star in this nimble tale of international intrigue from master British filmmaker Ronald Neame. Based on Brian Garfield's best-selling novel, the blithe thriller centers on Miles Kendig (Matthau), a disillusioned retired CIA agent who, with the help of a chic and savvy Viennese widow (Jackson), threatens to publish his memoirs and expose the innermost secrets of every major intelligence agency in the world. Despite being in major hot water with his former colleagues, Kendig refuses to get in line—he's having too much fun. Set to the sounds of Mozart, this lighthearted sendup of the paranoid dramas of its era is an expertly crafted, singular take on the spy movie.

SPECIAL FEATURES

• New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
• Interviews from 2002 with director Ronald Neame and writer Brian Garfield
• Walter Matthau in a 1980 appearance on The Dick Cavett Show
• Trailer and teaser
• Optional broadcast television audio track for family viewing
• PLUS: An essay by critic Glenn Kenny

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Anonymous

#2 Post by Anonymous » Fri Jan 21, 2005 12:56 am

I don't know why so many people are hostile towards this film. I think it's a very charming and funny movie, with great acting all around, especially from Walter Matthau. I probably would never have seen it if Criterion had not released it on DVD. Thank you Criterion :)

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#3 Post by Napier » Fri Jan 21, 2005 11:25 am

I Agree, I think this is a good film with a great classical score. And the opening sequence of Oktoberfest is great. Glenda Jackson and Walter Matthau have a great chemistry together. I probably would not have seen this one either if Criterion had not released it. Subsequently I work part time in a DVD store and an old guy and his wife actually ordered it! It is not something that I usually stock in my "Cinephile" end cap.

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Gregory
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#4 Post by Gregory » Fri Jan 21, 2005 4:45 pm

I probably would never have seen it if Criterion had not released it.
Why would that be the case? If a Walter Mathau spy comedy appeals to someone, wouldn't they check it out even if a lesser company had released it? Criterion's release probably turns a lot of people off because $30 SRP is pretty high for that type of film.
Anyway, I think the reason so many people complained about Hopscotch is because Criterion released it during one of their slower years, when there were usually only 2 or 3 releases per month, many of which were not by the most celebrated filmmakers. It's not that Hopscotch is an awful film, it's just so mediocre that it made people incredulous that of the releases that were trickling out, Criterion would choose to do Hopscotch instead of something more deserving of a special release. I've noticed that now that Criterion is releasing a solid 4-5 titles per month there's a lot less griping about the occasional mediocre film they announce.

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Napier
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#5 Post by Napier » Sat Jan 22, 2005 1:19 pm

Good point Gregory, the price is a little steep. But I am an avid Criterion collector and will buy any DVD they deem "Criterion" worthy. It helps that I work part time in a DVD store,and receive 30% off of all my special orders. Before I started working there only 4 Criterion titles came in stock on a regular basis. Guess which ones! Now I stock tons of Criterion titles. Scenes, Leopard, Mama Roma, Youth of the Beast. I am glad to do my part to make them more available. And now that they are there people actually buy them. And I live in a "progressive" area of Mass. Sorry if this is off topic! But used Criterions come in and sell for about $20.

Guest

#6 Post by Guest » Sat Jan 22, 2005 2:36 pm

Gregory wrote:Why would that be the case? If a Walter Mathau spy comedy appeals to someone, wouldn't they check it out even if a lesser company had released it?
Yes, IF they know that Walter Matthau ever made a spy comedy.
Gregory wrote:Criterion's release probably turns a lot of people off because $30 SRP is pretty high for that type of film.
$30 is the normal price for Criterion DVDs, and if they sold Hopscotch at a lower price, wouldn't that say something about how they regard the film? Of course, Nuit et brouillard is differently priced because it's relatively short.
Gregory wrote:Anyway, I think the reason so many people complained about Hopscotch is because Criterion released it during one of their slower years, when there were usually only 2 or 3 releases per month, many of which were not by the most celebrated filmmakers.
Celebrated filmmakers don't make good films all the time, and non-celebrated filmmakers don't make lousy films all the time.
Gregory wrote:It's not that Hopscotch is an awful film, it's just so mediocre that it made people incredulous that of the releases that were trickling out, Criterion would choose to do Hopscotch instead of something more deserving of a special release.
Nope, Hopscotch is not mediocre. In your opinion, it might be. But not in mine.

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luxetnox
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#7 Post by luxetnox » Sat Jan 22, 2005 7:36 pm

umgekehrt wrote:Yes, IF they know that Walter Matthau ever made a spy comedy.
My goodness, not everyone was born post 1980. I'm sure there are a few more people beside myself who saw Hopscotch when it was released and remember enjoying it. You are right though, I probably wouldn't have seen it if Matthau hadn't been in it.

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#8 Post by manicsounds » Sat Jan 22, 2005 9:33 pm

This was the only Criterion I have sold off.
I just found it a disappointing entry into the CC.

IT wasnt good, it wasnt bad. thats about it......

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Gregory
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#9 Post by Gregory » Sun Jan 23, 2005 3:49 am

Yes, IF they know that Walter Matthau ever made a spy comedy.
Why would a cheaper release from a different company (like a major studio, thus making it more widely distributed) make it any less accessible? What would keep people from seeing it on a shelf and buying/renting it?
$30 is the normal price for Criterion DVDs, and if they sold Hopscotch at a lower price, wouldn't that say something about how they regard the film?
I was talking about another possible scenario: a company other than Criterion releasing it at a lower price point.
Celebrated filmmakers don't make good films all the time, and non-celebrated filmmakers don't make lousy films all the time.
Granted, I never said otherwise. I'm just recalling that year, when Criterion went awhile without putting out many established masterpieces, and instead released 2-3 mostly non-canonical titles per month, a lot of people got pretty cranky and impatient. Juding from this forums, now that people have had more of their fill of Bergman etc. there seems to be more tolerance for more unexpected titles. That was my explanation for why Hopscotch provoked some anger when it was announced. Personally, I don't think it's worth getting too angry or disappointed over, but I'd still much rather have Rivette, Mizoguchi, Ophuls, Pabst, Clement, Sirk, von Sternberg, Ozu, etc. than Hopscotch. And, really, Criterion can only devote their attention to a limited number of releases at one time.
Nope, Hopscotch is not mediocre. In your opinion, it might be. But not in mine.
Hats off to you for holding your ground. Usually, your disagreement would be the prologue to a critical defense of the film, explaining in a detailed and specific way why this widely-underappreciated film is actually far better than the majority of people think/assume. On my end, it's difficult to explain why a film struck me as mediocre, because the film's very lack of distinguishing features which makes it mediocre also leaves it hard to say much about.
Last edited by Gregory on Sun Jan 23, 2005 4:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Guest

#10 Post by Guest » Sun Jan 23, 2005 12:31 pm

Gregory wrote:Why would a cheaper release from a different company (like a major studio, thus making it more widely distributed) make it any less accessible? What would keep people from seeing it on a shelf and buying/renting it? I was talking about another possible scenario: a company other than Criterion releasing it at a lower price point.
Exactly, that's my point. Because other companies seem to have forgotten about this film, and if Criterion had not released it, it would go on unnoticed.
Gregory wrote:Granted, I never said otherwise. I'm just recalling that year, when Criterion went awhile without putting out many established masterpieces, and instead released 2-3 mostly non-canonical titles per month, a lot of people got pretty cranky and impatient.
I don't care about "established masterpieces" or "canonical" titles. Those are opinions of other people. I'd like to make up my own mind about the films I like and don't like. Just because most people think that Rohmer's films are talky and boring, doesn't mean I have to. Or vice versa.

Your explanation about why people got impatient was probably on spot and I agree with you there. It's those cranky people I don't understand. But then again, we have our own tastes. I just hope that they were not cranky for the sole reason that Hopscotch was not directed by one of the "big name directors" like the ones you mentioned, but because they have really seen the film.
Gregory wrote:Hats off to you for holding your ground. Usually, your disagreement would be the prologue to a critical defense of the film, explaining in a detailed and specific way why this widely-underappreciated film is actually far better than the majority of people think/assume.
I have stated my reasons in my first post. It wasn't detailed or anything, but I'm not interested in changing people's minds. Like I said, if you think Hopscotch is not great, I respect that opinion. I will go on enjoying this DVD. 8-)

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#11 Post by Gregory » Sun Jan 23, 2005 4:33 pm

I'm not interested in changing people's minds.
Fair enough. While we may differ on Hopscotch, I completely agree that rather than being too swayed by the critical consensus people should think through on their own what films are substantial, valuable, etc.

Anonymous

#12 Post by Anonymous » Mon Jan 24, 2005 6:29 am

Unless Criterion would make it worth my while of course ;) I mean, if I'm going to advertise this particular DVD or any other releases, I should get something back, shouldn't I? After all, advertisement is a big bucks business :D

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#13 Post by Narshty » Tue Nov 18, 2008 6:09 am

Viewed as an entry in the Criterion hall of fame, this is remarkably humdrum, yet as Sunday afternoon sofa viewing (particularly with a father or uncle), it's not bad. But sadly it's yet further evidence that Ronald Neame has never offered a strong opinion on a film set in his life and for someone who started his career as a photographer, it often looks drab and underlit.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#14 Post by Napier » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:39 am

Beaver finally reviews! It would be great if someone could find the old forum posts on Hopscotch.

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Tom Hagen
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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#15 Post by Tom Hagen » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:21 pm

Yeah, did anyone around here actually predict that it would be the "apocalyptic auguring of Criterion's greatness"? I love that the Beaver review spends as much time considering what this forum (and possibly others?) thought about the title when it was released half a decade ago as anything else in the review.

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aox
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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#16 Post by aox » Mon Aug 23, 2010 12:43 pm

I've really got to see this film.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#17 Post by bamwc2 » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:19 pm

Tom Hagen wrote:Yeah, did anyone around here actually predict that it would be the "apocalyptic auguring of Criterion's greatness"? I love that the Beaver review spends as much time considering what this forum (and possibly others?) thought about the title when it was released half a decade ago as anything else in the review.
Perhaps that was a bit of hyperbole on my part, but the members of the forum back then were very, very steamed. I guess that this was one title where I just ran out of nice things to say.

edit: I'm working on another batch of titles now.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#18 Post by Tom Hagen » Mon Aug 23, 2010 4:28 pm

bamwc2 wrote:
Tom Hagen wrote:Yeah, did anyone around here actually predict that it would be the "apocalyptic auguring of Criterion's greatness"? I love that the Beaver review spends as much time considering what this forum (and possibly others?) thought about the title when it was released half a decade ago as anything else in the review.
Perhaps that was a bit of hyperbole on my part, but the members of the forum back then were very, very steamed. I guess that this was one title where I just ran out of nice things to say.

edit: I'm working on another batch of titles now.
It wasn't a commentary on the Beav's work, as much as it was on Hopscotch. If the most memorable thing about a film is the reaction it got from a message board, the film probably has a few issues.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#19 Post by bamwc2 » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:58 pm

To posted on my Beaver review:
Well folks, I goofed. Shortly after Gary posted my reviews for these five Criterions, I began receiving notification that the pictures were not representative of the video quality of the releases. Although I initially defended my captures, I recently realized that when I took the screen captures, the software that I use to do this was incorrectly configured. Fortunately these are the only reviews of mine that were affected. I will redo the captures as soon as possible, but since they are currently in storage roughly 300 miles away from me, it will likely take a week or two before I can get that done. I apologize for the difficulty and I assure you that I will take every step in the future to ensure that this won’t happen again. I’ll end by reiterating for those who are considering purchasing these discs, THE IMAGE ON THE DISCS LOOKS BETTER THAN WHAT IS CURRENTLY DISPLAYED.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#20 Post by bamwc2 » Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:04 pm

The pics are all now fixed.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#21 Post by thewind » Mon Aug 06, 2012 1:54 pm

I finally got around to pulling this off the shelf and watching it last week -- I'd only ever considered buying it when I found it used for about $10 a year or two ago, and then it just sat on the Criterion shelf unwatched for all the time I've had it. My wife wanted to see it, so hey, we watched it.

I do not understand the hostility toward this flick! It's totally cute, charming, a fun little spy romp with a wonderful performance by Matthau, a great understated supporting performance by Waterston, and maybe a little over-the-top goofiness by Beatty. But great fun, and charmingly ludicrous at times. Very much glad this is part of my collection.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#22 Post by Matt » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:29 pm

This was released almost exactly 10 years ago (August 20, 2002 according to Amazon). That was back in the day when Criterion was releasing unassailable classic after unassailable classic (Kurosawa after Fellini after Buñuel after Bergman) and many people were collecting every single disc they put out. The announcement of this disc (along with Ratcatcher) was one of the first occasions that I remember people noisily complaining that Criterion was wasting its time and resources on something not "Criterion-worthy." I was one of the mild complainers because I only remembered this film as one of those afternoon time-slot fillers that always popped up on Showtime and because I liked to joke that Criterion's mission to rehabilitate Neame's reputation as a director would result in a lavish 3-disc box set of Meteor.

I later caught up with Hopscotch on DVD and found it to be slight but very enjoyable.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#23 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:26 pm

It doesn't work so well if you go in expecting Charade, though

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#24 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 4:31 pm

It was on TCM awhile back, and I enjoyed it. It's that kind of breezy comedy with a light but sustainable amount of tension that one doesn't see much of these days.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#25 Post by warren oates » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:37 pm

matrixschmatrix wrote:It doesn't work so well if you go in expecting Charade, though
It doesn't but I actually prefer this film and it's more contemporary relative, Tony Gilroy's Duplicity, to something like Charade. In the end, Charade is a lightly comic romance masquerading as a thriller. While Hopscotch and Duplicity are satisfying lowkey espionage thrillers sprinkled with comedy and spun out of material that's almost always taken completely seriously. Those expecting a out and out comedy (Burn After Reading) or a bit of romantic confection will be just as disappointed as viewers who fault the film for not playing it straight and serious.

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