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Word Count: 840
John Le Carres The Little Drummer Girl is one of the finest of all spy novels The story concerns terrorism and anti-terrorism focussing on the IsraeliPalestinian situation and is full of convolutions and surprises The books multiple themes include the moral ambiguity of both sides the coercive power of love and the cost of violence to those who perform it George Roy Hills film version of the book manages to keep a surprising amount of both the plot and the themes in the film but something has been lost The film while good is not one of the great spy films The problem is Hill His direction is professional but doesnt capture Le Carres shadowy world of men and women willing to do anything for their cause Hills great talent is for mixing drama and action with humor as demonstrated by Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid The Sting and The World According to Garp among many other films with similar tones The Little Drummer Girl comes to life on the few occasions when Hill can legitimately set a lighter tone At all other times even in action sequences the film is well not lifeless but also not electric Part of the problem would have been hard for anyone to avoid As mentioned the plot is complex not by Le Carres standards perhaps but certainly by anyone elses Loring Mandel the screenwriter almost miraculously fits in all of the important elements of the story and still manages to touch upon the major themes within a two hour script However this fine job of compression requires Hill to play most scenes rather slowly so that the audience can follow whats going on Hill has always preferred to set a quicker pace A great script as opposed to this very good one or a director more comfortable with leisurely pacing might have been able to get more from the project The Little Drummer Girl was a controversial
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