163 Hopscotch

Discuss DVDs and Blu-rays released by Criterion and the films on them. If it's got a spine number, it's in here. Threads may contain spoilers.
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jindianajonz
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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#26 Post by jindianajonz » Thu May 02, 2013 12:53 pm

I finally got around to watching this last night, and can echo everybody else here who thought it was a charming and enjoyable way to spend 105 minutes. I first heard about this film by filtering the ratings section of this site to see what criterion films people had the worst opinion of, and I do think it's a shame that this one is so far down the list for reasons that have been well explored in this rather short thread.

I'm normally one who rolls my eyes when people start talking about things being "criterion worthy", but out of the 414 films in the collection that I've seen, this is undoubtedly the one I have the toughest time reconsiling with Criterion's mission statement of being "a series of important classic and contemporary films" which are "defining moments of cinema." Even Armageddon has some good arguments for being in the collection.

Anybody want to take a stab at arguing how Hopscotch fits the bill?

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knives
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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#27 Post by knives » Thu May 02, 2013 1:26 pm

Ronald Neame is awesome and this movie is awesome. I think it also reveals a lot about the mindset of America at the time that this is what they wanted for their light and fluffy adventure movie.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#28 Post by Gregory » Thu May 02, 2013 2:04 pm

jindianajonz wrote:I'm normally one who rolls my eyes when people start talking about things being "criterion worthy", but out of the 414 films in the collection that I've seen, this is undoubtedly the one I have the toughest time reconsiling with Criterion's mission statement of being "a series of important classic and contemporary films" which are "defining moments of cinema." Even Armageddon has some good arguments for being in the collection.

Anybody want to take a stab at arguing how Hopscotch fits the bill?
Yeah, that's a real throwback, and not one worth reviving IMHO. Back when there were only 163 spine numbers, so much less was available on disc, and Criterion was releasing films at a slower pace than they have in recent times, there was more urgency in discussions of why Criterion would make something like Hopscotch a priority. Now that there are 666, there's less cause than ever for worries about exclusivity or whether this or that film should be allowed into some pseudo-pantheon. Better to just discuss the film on its own merits, as very little used to come out of the old discussions of the mission statement and what makes a film "important," "classic," etc.

For me, anyway, there's simply little to say about the film. It can be an enjoyable change of pace from what most of us watch most of the time, but I'd much rather revisit Tunes of Glory or Horse's Mouth. It's not just a matter of Matthau vs. Guinness. Gulley Jimson and Jock Sinclair are just far more compelling characters than anyone in Hopscotch, or at least that was my impression. And I can't help but feel, especially knowing some things about Philip Agee, the CIA officer turned whistleblower who had a really interesting live, that Hopscotch is just really frivolous, and not just in the way that your average light entertainment is.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#29 Post by Roger Ryan » Thu May 02, 2013 3:54 pm

knives wrote:Ronald Neame is awesome and this movie is awesome. I think it also reveals a lot about the mindset of America at the time that this is what they wanted for their light and fluffy adventure movie.
I'm not sure about the "mindset of America at the time". I saw HOPSCOTCH the first weekend it opened since I was writing a review for my high school newspaper (yep, slow week - the next week saw the release of THE ELEPHANT MAN which made a much stronger impression on me). I recall that HOPSCOTCH was, indeed, light and frivolous in a non-offensive way but it was never a film I wanted to see again (and I haven't). Matthau certainly appealed to mainstream America at the time, but my perception was that HOPSCOTCH was seen as a very minor vehicle for him. CASEY'S SHADOW, CALIFORNIA SUITE, FIRST MONDAY IN OCTOBER and I OUGHT TO BE IN PICTURES were all much higher profile movies for him during this era.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#30 Post by Gregory » Thu May 02, 2013 4:13 pm

Yes, I'd be surprised if anyone would call it a major work, any kind of cultural beacon (it's a light adaptation of a rather serious novel), or an important turn for Matthau. If it had been directed by a lesser figure, Criterion probably would not have released it. The principal reason it's in the Collection is probably producer Karen Stetler developing a pretty deep working relationship with Neame in his nineties and trying to get as much as possible out of that relationship (and Criterion liking to throw a curve every so often.) This one ended up pretty light on extras, not surprisingly, as it's a lower-tier release.

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jindianajonz
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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#31 Post by jindianajonz » Thu May 02, 2013 5:10 pm

Gregory wrote:The principal reason it's in the Collection is probably producer Karen Stetler developing a pretty deep working relationship with Neame in his nineties and trying to get as much as possible out of that relationship
I had wondered if something like this was the case. It's as good a reason as any, and since it got me to see an enjoyable film I probably never would have seen otherwise, I'm satisfied!

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#32 Post by movielocke » Fri Jan 03, 2014 2:34 pm

Finally caught up with this. I can understand the consternation over it's conclusion, because it's really just a programmer, the first twenty minutes suggest it's going to be a terrific programmer, but then it sort of descends into becoming average. I felt like Neame addresses this, obliquely, in his interview, when he said they kept trying to avoid thing becoming too 'plotty,' and it's definitely the 'plotty' and utterly flat scenes that "move things along" that drag the film down. Considering the opening, and the terrific scene discussing wine and the vodka scene you have the makings of something really interesting. Unfortunately, after the terrific set up, the film doesn't live up to it; once all the dominoes have been placed the film gets bogged down in scenes saying "he's released chapter three!" &c.

It's good, with some nice characteristics and fairly entertaining, but it is not particularly special in any conceivable way.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#33 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 16, 2017 4:46 pm

Upgrade coming in August. No, really

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#34 Post by cana7cl » Tue May 16, 2017 4:48 pm

Great news.

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domino harvey
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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#35 Post by domino harvey » Tue May 16, 2017 4:51 pm

Looks like this loses the TV audio track

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#36 Post by jindianajonz » Tue May 16, 2017 4:52 pm

domino harvey wrote:Looks like this loses the TV audio track
It's still listed:
•Optional broadcast television audio track for family viewing

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#37 Post by cdnchris » Tue May 16, 2017 4:52 pm

Well... I like the cover.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#38 Post by movielocke » Tue May 16, 2017 5:15 pm

I have such warm memories of last watching this, that I was excited when I saw it was getting upgraded, "silly spy caper, I'd watch that again" I thought. Then I look at my comments upthread and I'm puzzled because a few years later I definitely don't feel nearly as equivocal towards the film now.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#39 Post by jindianajonz » Tue May 16, 2017 5:20 pm

That's funny, I had a similar reaction though I was questioning if I had ever really watched this film as I can't recall anything about it.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#40 Post by cdnchris » Tue May 16, 2017 5:30 pm

It's fine for what it is and what I remember is fun, but ultimately I think a lot of people found it mediocre. It was such an odd title for them at the time (it really stood out when they originally released it), which is where I think a lot of the animosity comes from. But even though I don't hate it I'm still puzzled by their original release and am even more puzzled that it gets a Blu upgrade before just about any other title still DVD only.

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knives
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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#41 Post by knives » Tue May 16, 2017 6:29 pm

I like it and it is probably the title from this month I would most likely pick up. Fun is good sometimes.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#42 Post by flyonthewall2983 » Tue May 16, 2017 7:13 pm

Most definitely the one of the bunch I would get too. Matthau in these kind of breezy thrillers (or something more gritty like The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three) really works, in a way that's not so easy to pin down.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#43 Post by Rayon Vert » Tue May 16, 2017 8:30 pm

Watched this not that long ago and assumed it would be awful because of its rep on this board, but I found it... OK, with some small charm. But not quite a keeper.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#44 Post by ianungstad » Tue May 16, 2017 8:36 pm

I enjoy this film. It makes a good double bill with The In-Laws.

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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#45 Post by Self » Tue Jul 11, 2017 7:15 pm


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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#46 Post by Minkin » Sat Jul 22, 2017 6:08 am


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Re: 163 Hopscotch

#47 Post by jegharfangetmigenmyg » Thu Dec 07, 2017 5:11 pm

As much as I love some Matthau in the Collection, this film is just a stinker, no matter how you look at it; extremely badly paced, so unfunny when it needs to be funny... The near-masterpiece Charley Varrick would have been a much better choice IMO.

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