The Little Drummer Girl (film)

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The Little Drummer Girl
Poster of the movie The Little Drummer Girl.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byGeorge Roy Hill
Produced byRobert L. Crawford
Patrick Kelley
Dieter Meyer
Written byJohn le Carré
Loring Mandel
Music byDave Grusin
CinematographyWolfgang Treu
Edited byWilliam Reynolds
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • October 19, 1984 (1984-10-19)
Running time
132 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million
Box office$7,828,841[1]

The Little Drummer Girl is a 1984 American spy film directed by George Roy Hill and adapted from the 1983 novel of the same name by John le Carré. It starred Diane Keaton, Yorgo Voyagis, Klaus Kinski and Thorley Walters.[2] The film received divided reviews among critics.


Set in Europe and the Middle East, the plot follows the Mossad's clandestine attempt to flush out a PLO bomber named Khalil. To neutralize Khalil, they first kidnap (and later kill) his brother who's on a lecture tour speaking to audiences in a ski mask about the profound suffering and losses of the Palestine under military occupation.

Charlie, an anti-Zionist American actress in Greece shooting a wine commercial, is seduced by Joseph, who tricks her into believing that he is the masked man she met back in the UK. She is kidnapped and taken to a house of Israeli Mossad spies (who set up the commercial gig) to eventually be recruited and convinced that they too want peace and an end to the killing. Monitored and manipulated at every step, Charlie proves that she is clever and capable by acting well in maneuvers that develop Mossad's narrative for her. She eventually arrives at a resistance headquarters in a bombed out Palestinians city where the leader, Tayeh, is unsure but permits her to go to a desert guerrilla training camp for a month.

Tayeh clarifies that they are not anti-Semitic, they are anti-Zionist and she advances to her next assignment. Now a double agent of sorts, under the Israeli Mossad cover impersonating the dead man's girlfriend, she connects with a man that she deduces is actually Khalil as they prepare an exploding briefcase with his bomb signature—a specially wrapped coil of wire. As Charlie delivers the briefcase to the "peacenik" target, Professor Minkel, the Mossad, who've been watching, control the situation. She says her lines to the objecting professor and the briefcase is whisked away by a man in a bomb suit. Charlie returns to Khalil and they drive away after the large building explosion that she knows is a false flag event harming no one, despite what the evening news says to fool Khalil. He's not easily disarmed and does not fall asleep as planned. He's suspicious of the extreme quiet around their country refuge. Khalil removes the batteries from her portable radio with a tracker and secret signal button for when he fell asleep. Alerted, Joseph and others of the Mossad team move in not to capture but to kill Khalil, as other Mossad agents kill other PLO recruiting agents. All of the Palestinian guerrillas are destroyed and engulfed by flames from jet bombers.

In an Israeli hospital, Charlie is physically unharmed but emotionally wrecked and betrayed because all she wanted was to help Palestinians and end the killing, but ultimately she was used and manipulated by the Israeli Mossad to slaughter every Palestinian she met. Eventually she returns to her acting in the UK but is too broken and walks off stage. Joseph is there, tells Charlie his real name, restates that he's done with killing, doesn't know what's right and wrong, but he loves her. She says that she's dead. They walk off together into the night.



The film opened to mixed reviews from critics.[citation needed]

People Magazine (U.S., Vol.22 No.7) began their review: "Diane Keaton will be a long time living down this film..."[3] The New York Times said "Everybody connected with the film behaves as if he were hanging onto the tail of a tiger and can't let go. They desperately clutch the material but never tame it."[2]

James Sanford in the April 9, 2004 Kalamazoo Gazette, referred to the film as an "Underrated thriller with a typically solid Keaton performance ... 3/5".


  1. ^ The Little Drummer Girl at Box Office Mojo
  2. ^ a b Canby, Vincent (1984-10-19). "The Little Drummer Girl (1984)". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-11-11.
  3. ^ "Picks and Pans Review: The Little Drummer Girl". People Magazine. 1984-10-22. Retrieved 2017-11-11.

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