Theaters: October 1984
Runtime: 130-132 minutes
Genre: Drama – Mystery – Suspense – Thriller
Amazon: 4.1/5 stars
Rotten Tomatoes Critics: 5.7/10
Rotten Tomatoes Audience: 3.4/5
Metacritic Metascore: NA/100
Metacritic User Score: NA/10
Directed by: George Roy Hill
Written by: Loring Mandel (screenplay), John le Carré (book)
Music by: Dave Grusin
Cast: Diane Keaton, Yorgo Voyagis, Klaus Kinski
Film Locations: Germany, Greece, Israel, Lebanon, UK
Worldwide Box Office: $7,828,841
Charlie (Keaton), a creator of alternate realities and a so-so actress believes in the Palestinian cause; in their quest for a country and peace. She is recruited by Israeli intelligence, telling her they also want peace. They want her help in finding a Palestinian terrorist bomber, using her well honed abilities at deception and misdirection.
David John Moore Cornwell, a British writer of mysteries and spy novels under the pen name of John le Carré, worked for the English secret service until his 3rd novel in 1963, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, became an international best seller. He quit the service in that year and devoted his time to writing, mainly cold war spy novels dealing with the psychology of gamesmanship and spy craft rather than James Bond type action. His stories usually center around the moral cost of attempting to contain the communist empire without absorbing the stain of their criminality and depravity. In 1983 he broke from his successful template of cold war spy novels and wrote about the ethical ambiguity between Palestinian and Israeli methods of prosecuting and defending against acts of terror in his novel, The Little Drummer Girl. The novel was the 4th highest selling novel in the US in 1983. Loring Mandel is mainly known for his long-time writing involvement for the TV soap opera, Love of Life and his 2001 screenplay for the Nazi final solution movie, Conspiracy depicting the 1942 Wannsee Conference. His screenplay for The Little Drummer Girl is a faithful and true rendition of le Carre’s novel.
George Roy Hill directed 14 movies, 8 were nominated Oscars and 9 for Golden Globes. Four of the movies won Oscars and 3 won Golden Globes. He was nominated, but didn’t win, the Best Director Academy Award for the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. His high water mark came in 1974 when he won the Best Director Academy Award for the 1973 movie The Sting. His movies slowly declined in quality after that, with his last 2 films, The Little Drummer Girl and Funny Farm receiving little praise from either the public or audiences. His direction of The Little Drummer Girl was not spectacular, workman-like rather, but that wasn’t what destroyed this movie, that distinction belongs to Diane Keaton.
Diane Keaton is absolutely horrendous in this movie. Some of the polite critics say she was miscast, which is true, but that doesn’t negate the fact that throughout this movie she just recites lines without conviction or is capable of displaying any proper scene awareness. Diane Keaton made her name in 1970s acting in movies with the incestuous Woody Allen. The apogee of her career came in 1977 with her playing Annie Hall in the movie of the same name. It has been downhill for her ever since.
This is a movie that you never need to watch unless you wish to watch all of John le Carre’s books come to life on the big screen. Just be aware that the story is good but Keaton is painful to watch.