I love Walter Matthau, I love action, I love comedy and I love spies in movies and TV so this is a perfect film for me. I have been fan of spoofy spy movies since I was a kid. The first I remember seeing was Matt Helm series with Dean Martin. I just thought it was so funny and fun.
This movie is not campy like Matt Helm but it is really fun. It was made just after the Watergate Trials and just before the Ronald Regan took office and changed the GOP forever. It is a fun movie that shows how people felt about the government at that time. They didn’t trust them. (nothing much has changed has it?)
Walter Matthau plays a spy named Miles Kendig who is forced to retired by a new head of department who hates him, (play brilliantly by Ned Beatty). Everyone loves him even his Russian adversary at the KGB (played by the amazing Herbert Lom from the Pink Panther movies) respects and likes him. As he says in the movie, “One can not help it.”
So he steals and destroys his file and leaves the US to visit and ex-spy and old girl friend, Isobel played by Glenda Jackson. (she is such a great and funny actress it must be interesting seeing her dress down in opponents in Parliament. She became an MP for Labour in the 90’s. Great for Britain but we miss her wit in the movies.) One of my favorite scenes in the movie is their first scene together chatting about wine (LOL!).
After everyone jokes with him saying “What are you going to do write your memoirs,” he decides to just that. To the tell the truth and to get even with that evil, bigoted head of Covert Affairs. So he writes an explosive first chapter with a very telling table of contents and the fun begins.
The only person in the agency who is trying to keep his old mentor alive is Agent Cutter,( Played sweetly, with wit and compassion by the amazing Sam Waterston) Everyone else wants to kill him. The fun is watching Kendig outwit all the agencies in the world, exposing the bad guys in the agency while protecting the good.
It is a such a fun ride, the first couple of seasons of Burn Notice reminded of me of this kind of movie before it got so serious. I would recommend it for anyone who likes fun, irony and adventure.