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The Defection of Simas Kudirka (1978)

Based on the true story of the attempted defection in 1970 by a Lithuanian seaman seeking political asylum in the United States. Kudirka was denied asylum and returned to the Soviets, ... See full summary »

Director:

David Lowell Rich

Writer:

Bruce Feldman
Reviews
Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Alan Arkin ... Simas Kudirka
Richard Jordan ... Commander Edward Devon
Donald Pleasence ... Captain Vladimir Popov
George Dzundza ... Gruzauskas
John McMartin ... Phillip Chadway
Shirley Knight ... Genna Kudirka
Marvin Silbersher Marvin Silbersher ... Commander Burkalis
Peter Evans Peter Evans ... Mott
Ted Shackelford ... Blain
Barton Heyman ... Dr. Paegle
Jack Blessing ... Kabek
Nicholas Guest ... Baltrunar
Matthew Arkin ... Petras
Salem Ludwig Salem Ludwig ... Assistant Supervisor
Donald Warnock Donald Warnock ... Stender (as Don Warnock Jr.)
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Storyline

Based on the true story of the attempted defection in 1970 by a Lithuanian seaman seeking political asylum in the United States. Kudirka was denied asylum and returned to the Soviets, charged with treason, and sentenced to ten years of hard labor. It was later discovered and verified that his mother had been born in Brooklyn and gone to Lithuania at a young age, which meant she was a U. S. citizen. As a result, Kudirka was declared a U. S. citizen and in 1974 released by the Soviets. Written by Steve Bulota

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

character name in title | See All (1) »

Genres:

Drama

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

23 January 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La deserción de Simas Kudirka See more »

Filming Locations:

New Castle, New Hampshire, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The Coast Guard cutter featured in the film was still in service as of 2017. Homeported in Cape Canaveral, Florida, USCGC Vigilant (WMEC-617) has been patrolling the seas for over 50 years. See more »

Goofs

During Mr. Chadway's yelling in his officer of what has happened, for over five seconds, we can see what appears to be the boom mic hanging just in frame overhead. A couple minutes later when letting some guests in, on the left, upward, we can see what appears to be another piece of filming equipment. See more »

Quotes

Commander Edward Devon: Where is he?
[running up some steps; an officer opens up a door to what appears to be a closet]
Simas Kudirka: Hello! I am here! Thank you!
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Fascinating look at a true life story
27 July 2018 | by MissSimonettaSee all my reviews

Being a 1970s TV movie, I doubt this movie will garner much interest beyond the level of niche and that is unfortunate, as it is a moving, competently directed production with some fine performances. Taking a quasi-documentary approach to this true story, the film covers its subject matter with as little melodrama as possible, making things come off as more authentic and harrowing.

Alan Arkin is most known as a comedic character actor, but I feel his dramatic work is often underrated. During the 1960s and 1970s, he gave compelling, intense performances in movies like Wait Until Dark, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Catch-22, and The Other Side of Hell. This film features another fine dramatic turn from him. His Simas Kudrika is a likable fellow whose two great values of family and freedom create much of his internal conflict over whether or not to defect. While the audience roots for him, he is shown to be a bit selfish and irresponsible in his decision-making; however, this makes him all the more interesting. Arkin nails the performance and I am especially impressed by his ability to convincingly recite dialogue in another language without coming off like he's reading a cue card out of camera range.

While Arkin leaves the biggest impression, the other actors do great work too, especially Shirley Knight, Donald Pleasance, and Richard Jordon. No one ever comes off as cartoony; even the antagonists feel chillingly authentic.

The direction by David Lowell Rich is competent, never too fancy for its own good. The camerawork, as I mentioned before, makes the film feel like a documentary. My only criticism would be the music is a bit off in some scenes, but the music is used sparingly, so that's all right.


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