Little Drummer Girl (1984)


Our Weekly Entertainment Dispatch

Mossad recruits Diane Keaton as the Israeli – Palestinian conflict heats up

Little Drummer Girl (1984)

By now, we’ve all seen the footage of mobs of left-wing protesters on university campuses around the country praising Hamas’s murderous attacks on Israel, ripping down posters of kidnapped victims, and chanting “from the river to the sea” (a phrase that advocates the eradication of the state of Israel).  And so, we thought it fitting this week to highlight The Little Drummer Girl, which follows the story of an impassioned leftist American sympathizer to the Palestinian cause, in the ultimate test of her beliefs.

The 1984 film, adapted from the John Le Carre book of the same name, stars Diane Keaton as Charlie, an American actress in London who attends a lecture by Michel, a masked representative of a Palestinian militant organization.  There, Charlie is observed by a spotter for Israel’s Mossad. With her fierce pro-Palestinian convictions and her acting skills, she makes for an attractive potential recruit for the agency. 

A ruse engineered by the Mossad brings Charlie to Greece for an acting gig, where she is baited into an infatuation with “Michel” – in actuality, an undercover Mossad agent.  Once Charlie is hooked, she finds herself in a series of fraught, manipulative interviews by the Mossad, designed to assess her suitability as a recruit. 

Led by “Kurtz,” who is played by the inimitable Klaus Kinski (who has one of the most unforgettable mugs in history), the Mossad cell vets Charlie as a potential asset.  Ultimately, it is determined she has the right stuff, and the operation is launched.  Charlie is to infiltrate a Palestinian cell and help snare the mythical “Kalil,” a lethal bombmaker whose been killing Israelis with his signature explosives. 

What follows is Charlie’s role as a double-agent, traveling deeper and deeper into the Palestinian organization, taking her far from her previously safe life in London.  But is she really loyal to the Israelis? 

The question becomes even more immediate when she meets the darkly charming Kalil – and she makes a tactical mistake.  Ultimately, she has to choose – and cornered in the room with Khalil, her life hangs in the balance. 

The acting is sound, but the film undeniably lifts when Kinski walks on-screen.  Diane Keaton is fine as Charlie, the somewhat naïve American-abroad who is forced to determine what she’s really made of (but that said, she sports one of the worst haircuts this side of a Nicolas Cage mullet.  This was the fashion for a beautiful woman in 1984?).

The Little Drummer Girl (1984) is available for rent on Amazon Video for $3.19.  Does the film require you to suspend belief at times?  Yes.  Still, we recommend it, given the events unfolding in the Middle East and the reverberations we are witnessing at home. 

Give this one a shot. The entire film is underlaid with a feel of authenticity (le Carre worked for both the British domestic intel service, MI5, and its overseas counterpart, MI6), so you’ll get a window into what the unseen war of intelligence looks and feels like. And how merciless it really is, on both sides.

Enjoy the movie and support your local police!


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