The true story of Christopher Boyce, a young All-American man whose job as a guard for sensitive documents shatters his faith in his country and leads him to a sometimes comic, sometimes chilling sideline as a spy for the Soviets, aided by his scruffy buddy, Daulton; it can’t last, though, and the consequences are tremendous for Boyce and his family.
The Falcon and the Snowman is a 1985 American spy drama film directed by John Schlesinger. It is loosely based on a true story about two young American men, Christopher Boyce (Timothy Hutton) and Andrew Daulton Lee (Sean Penn), who sold U.S. security secrets to the Soviet Union. The film is based on the 1979 book The Falcon and the Snowman: A True Story of Friendship and Espionage by Robert Lindsey, and features the song “This Is Not America”, written and performed by David Bowie and the Pat Metheny Group.
About the Story
Boyce, an expert in the sport of falconry and son of an FBI office employee, gets a job at a civilian defense contractor (TRW, called “RTX” in the movie) working in the so-called “Black Vault,” a secure communication facility through which flows information on some of the most classified U.S. operations in the world. Boyce becomes disillusioned with the U.S. government through his new position, especially after reading a misrouted communiqué dealing with the CIA’s plan to depose the Prime Minister of Australia. Frustrated by this duplicity, Boyce decides to repay his government by passing classified secrets to the Soviets.
Lee is a drug addict and minor smuggler, sometimes called “the Snowman” (in reference to his cocaine sales), who has frustrated and alienated his family. Lee agrees to contact and deal with the KGB’s agents in Mexico on Boyce’s behalf, motivated not by idealism but by what he perceives as an opportunity to make money, then eventually settle in his idea of paradise, Costa Rica.
As the pair become increasingly involved with espionage, Lee’s ambition to create a major espionage business coupled with his excessive drug use began alienating the two from each other. Alex, their Soviet handler, becomes increasingly reluctant to deal through Lee as the middleman because of Lee’s periods of irrationality. Boyce wants to end the espionage so that he can resume a normal life with his girlfriend Lana and attend college. He meets with Lee’s KGB handler to explain the situation.
Lee is desperate to regain the Soviets’ regard after realizing that the KGB no longer needs him as a courier now that they have direct contact with Boyce. Lee is observed tossing a note over the fence at the Soviet embassy in Mexico City. He is arrested by Mexican police, and a U.S. Foreign Service officer accompanies him to the police station.
When the police search his pockets and find film (from a Minox spy camera Boyce used to photograph documents) and a postcard (used by the Soviets to show the haphazard Lee the location of a drop zone), they produce pictures of the same location that was on the postcard, showing officers surrounding a dead man on the street. The Foreign Service officer explains that the Mexican police are trying to implicate him with the murder of a policeman. The police drag away Lee and torture him.
Hours later, he reveals that he is a Soviet spy … the real reason the police had been ordered to detain him. Told by the Mexican police that he will be deported, Lee is offered a choice of where to be sent. Lee suggests Costa Rica, but the choice is merely between the Soviet Union and the United States. Lee reluctantly agrees to go back to America and is arrested as he walks across the border.
The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
Directed by: John Schlesinger
Starring: Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn, Pat Hingle, Lori Singer, Joyce Van Patten, Rob Reed, Annie Kozuch, Karen West, Priscilla Pointer
Screenplay by: Steven Zaillian
Production Design by: James D. Bissell
Cinematography by: Allen Daviau
Film Editing by: Richard Marden
Costume Design by: Albert Wolsky
Set Decoration by: Linda DeScenna
Music by: Lyle Mays, Pat Metheny
Distributed by: Orion Pictures
Release Date: February 8, 1985