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Little Drummer Girl [VHS]
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Product Description

Middle-eastern terrorism provides the dense, perpetually timely context of The Little Drummer Girl, loyally adapted from John Le Carr¨¦'s complex bestseller. It's slow going at first, taking pains to establish the tragically complicated plight of Charlie (Diane Keaton), a left-wing, pro-Palestinian actress, recruited by Israeli intelligence in 1981 to play the role of a lifetime: Once her loyalties are turned, she will lure a dominant Palestinian terrorist (Sami Frey) into a deadly trap. She's an unwitting pawn, vulnerable to romance (particularly with her Israeli recruiter, played with subtle conviction by Greek-born Yorgo Voyagis), and Keaton brings sympathetic naivet¨¦ to her character's potentially lethal dilemma. Klaus Kinski is arguably miscast as the Israeli intelligence chief, but viewers are more likely to stumble over the film's constant flow of intricate detail. The Little Drummer Girl is not always easy to follow, but attentive viewers will be rewarded, and the plot itself is, sadly, as relevant as ever. --Jeff Shannon

Customer Reviews:

  • False colors
    George Roy Hill's film of John Le Carre's The Little Drummer Girl was, like most Le Carre adaptations, a big box-office disappointment in 1984 and has long since pretty much disappeared from sight (it's currently only on DVD in Germany). Its plot isn't the easiest of sells, it's true: to track down and kill a Palestinian terrorist, Mossad trick an actress and Palestinian sympathiser into becoming their own undercover agent, in the process revealing and stripping away the inventions and deceits she has carefully cultivated to hide her own lack of a sense of self and creating a new, equally false persona.

    On one level it's old ground for the author with another damaged and emotionally immature protagonist providing ideal cannon fodder for the spy game, but it's also one of Le Carre's more personal novels - the absent and less than honest father is clearly based on Le Carre's own while the heroine was so heavily inspired by his half-sister Charlotte Cornwall that it caused something of a backlash against the film when a badly miscast Diane Keaton got the role instead (though there was never any prospect of Cornwall getting the lead in a big-budget globe-trotting thriller from a major Hollywood studio to begin with). It doesn't help that the script highlights her limitations as an actress - her English accent is terrible (even the German and Israeli actors can pronounce Nottingham properly), her delivery of Shaw and Shakespeare in the theatre scenes amateurish and every line that contains the words `I believe' brings out a nasty rash of overacting. She has her moments but even allowing for the fact that she's playing an actress doesn't excuse the weaker moments that undo her best work elsewhere in the film and sporadically threaten to take you out of the story.

    It's a particular shame because there's enough meat in the role - a compulsive liar constantly turning her past into a fictional romantic tragedy, passionately believing in the causes of others to fill the void in herself - that a better actress could have elevated the film a couple of notches beyond the okay espionage procedural thriller it is to the darker character study it could have been. As it stands it's a mixture of a few strong moments and a few awkward ones with the bulk of the film efficiently filling in the gaps without any particular distinction.

    Politically at least it's more balanced than you might expect: the Mossad agents openly lie and manipulate her with little regard for anything but their own aims despite their displays of bonhomie as they exploit her desperate need for a cause and a surrogate family to belong to while, with the exception of OTT German neo-Nazi hellfrau Helga, who seems to have wandered in from an old WW2 movie, the Palestinians generally avoid easy stereotyping. Everything is wrapped up a little too neatly, but it's never less than watchable and there's a strong supporting turn from a sympathetic Klaus Kinski while a few unexpected familiar faces like Bill Nighy and David Suchet turn up in the supporting cast.

    The PAL German DVD has no extras but boasts a decent 1.85:1 transfer with English soundtrack.
    ...more info
  • Kept me interested
    This movie kept me interested, I really wanted to see how Charlie was going to pull it all off....more info
  • realistic
    Le Carre (David Cornwall) was in British Intelligence just after the war. He, if anyone, is superbly qualified to give insight into what happens in the secret world. ...more info
  • The Little Drummer Girl
    I really love this movie, although I have to admit I didn't catch the entire plot until I turned on closed captioning on my TV. A lot of the words are just too garbled to understand. My one big complaint about the movie itself is the casting of Diane Keaton. This isn't a criticism of her looks since I think she's very attractive, however for the role she was playing they needed someone who was very pretty in order to be convincing. She does do a magnificent job of acting the part.

    This movie is one the most romantic I have ever seen. Although there are only a few romantic areas in it, they are enough to carry the whole thing and make your your knees go weak. I became an instant Yorgo Voyagis fan after seeing this.

    The plot is excellent and carries you through to the end. I recommend this movie very much....more info

  • Too good to be missing
    This film is unavailable from Block Buster or NetFlix or the library system. It is too important to be abandoned. I don't know why, if it is considered politically incorrect or too hot to handle, or what. John La Carre wrote without an agenda, showing both sides, warts and all. I plan to loan it to as many people as will watch it.
    Sandi...more info
  • Riveting
    Diane Keaton will never be too old! She's a masterpiece and so is this movie. The gut-wrenching decisions Keaton's character is forced to make are ones that make for truly great drama. A keeper. Not to be missed....more info
  • Great and terrible at the same time
    You know how you just can't pull your eyes away from a train wreck? LDG is a lot like that. It's embarassingly bad in a few spots, but really a fine movie that really keeps you hanging on until the end. Keaton, like Allen, has her mannerisms that are occasionally like fingernails on a chalkboard, but she does a fine job in this movie. The supporting cast is really tremendous. I just wish that someone else had played the lead. Sig Weaver, perhaps? No, she could never have made naive believeable enough. Oh, well. . . . . someone....more info
  • It's one of my favorites!
    I think this is a great movie! Dianne Keaton and Yorgo Voyagis are outstanding! Also watch for David Suchet (Hercule Poirot)! The young actress (Keaton) is recruited for a dangerous secret mission. It is very realistic and exciting. I recommend it....more info
  • It's one of my favorites!
    I recommend this movie. Dianne Keaton does a great job, along with Yorgo Voyagis and Klaus Kinski. This is a super story of a young girl caught up in International Intrigue! Watch for David Suchet (Hercule Poirot). A good show!...more info