The Falcon and the Snowman

Year: 1985
Production Co: Hemdale Film Corporation
Director: John Schlesinger
Producer: John Schlesinger
Writer: Steven Zaillian
Cast: Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn, Pat Hingle, Lori Singer
John Schlesigner, Sidney Lumet and a handful of others became synonymous with the rash of conspiracy thrillers of the mid 70s, the kind Jaws knocked rudely off the Hollywood pedestal.

In very much the same style, Schlesigner revisits the genre in mood, style and tone in this true story of a low-level CIA telecommunications operator and his drug dealer friend who sold secrets to the soviets.

All to the strains of a Harold Faltermeyer-like soundtrack (by Pat Metheny, but he was channelling Vangelis), Chris (Hutton, looking so much like a young Ray Liotta it's scary) watches the communiques coming through the Telex room of the security outfit where he works. Assuming like most Americans do that his security services are ensuring America's security, he's shocked to learn the extent of their interference and manipulation of sovereign foreign governments for the US' darkest imperialist aims.

Appalled, he enlists his pusher friend Daulton (Penn, in Sergeant Pepper's hair mode and sporting some frightening turtlenecks, flared slacks and light brown leather jackets) to take copies of highly sensitive documents to the Russian embassy in Mexico for a little cash on the side.

Their scheme brings them undone, the pressure from the Soviets to deliver the goods and their guilt and fear at being caught driving Chris half mad, and the inevitable happens as we know it's a true story!

Stylistically it tries to hard too invoke the 70s, but none of the foreground detracts from the power of the message. Chilling, but not because of kids selling secrets to state enemies, but because of how many holes there are in national security with an apparatus as big and lumbering as those employed by most Western governments.

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