The Osterman Weekend (film)

1983 film by Sam Peckinpah

The Osterman Weekend is a 1983 thriller and suspense film, set during the Cold War, in which a controversial television journalist is asked by the C.I.A. to persuade certain acquaintances, who are Soviet Agents of the Omega network, to defect.

Directed by Sam Peckinpah. Written by Alan Sharp, based on the novel of the same name by Robert Ludlum.
It will be a weekend to remember...if they survive it!taglines

Bernard Osterman

  • The truth is just a lie that hasn't been found out.
  • It ain’t legal, but it sure as hell isn’t traitorous.

John Tanner

  • What you've just witnessed is, in many ways, a life-sized video game. You saw a liar talk to a killer and you couldn't tell them apart. But hey, it's only television. As you may know, television programs are just the filler between attempts to steal your money. So if you want to save some, turn me off. It's a simple movement, done with the hand and what is left of your free will. The moment is now. My bet is you can't do it. But go ahead and try. [pause] Am I still on?

Lawrence Fassett

  • I know Maxwell Danforth very well; he killed my wife. Not with his bare hands, of course. The Danforths of the world don't murder that way. They use words like terminate, exterminate.
  • [the RV has just exploded, killing all four inside as Osterman and Tanner watch] And then there were two.
  • Think of them as fleas on a dog hit by a car driven by a drunken teenager whose girlfriend just gave him the clap. It will help you sense of perspective.


Maxwell Danforth: Suppose I was to tell you that our enemies are capable of impairing rational thought, of dismantling our willingness to defend ourselves, of dissociating whole societies from their value systems?
John Tanner: You mean they've got televisions.

Bernard Osterman: What's the trouble?
Motorcycle Cop: Can I see your license, please?
Bernard Osterman: Yeah, I wasn't speeding though. I've given that up. You know I've cut, I've cut way back on speeding. I've cut, cut it way down.
Motorcycle Cop: Yeah I thought that was you, you write for TV, don't ya?
Bernard Osterman: Yeah that's me. Yeah I'm, I'm on my way to catch a plane though, right.
Motorcycle Cop: Oh, don't worry, you'll make it. I like your stuff, Mister Osterman. Only sometimes I think you tend to be a little strident, ya know.
Bernard Osterman: Strident? Are you giving me a ticket for strident writing are you? That means the death penalty for Beverly Hills parking violations is coming back too, huh?
Motorcycle Cop: [smiles] Have a nice day.
Bernard Osterman: Yeah.

Bernard Osterman: I'm still wondering how we got into this mess.
John Tanner: It's called being programmed.

Quotes about The Osterman Weekend

  • The first reaction was the movie was bad, and the received wisdom is that it’s worse. Peckinpah, however, was always a foe of received wisdom, and this is why: The Osterman Weekend isn’t a terrible movie. It’s not even a bad movie. It’s certainly not a great movie, but its status as the movie that literally and figuratively buried him is entirely unjust. Like Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia, it’s a misunderstood, underrated film that deserves a second look, if not a complete reassessment. ... The Osterman Weekend’s themes are exactly the kind that are best suited to its convoluted, complicated story. It’s about paranoia and distrust and desperation. It’s about panic and confusion and betrayal. It’s not about reality; it’s about perception.
  • Writing a defense of Sam Peckinpah’s The Osterman Weekend is doomed to failure if your goal is to prove that it’s a great movie, because it’s not. It’s clumsy, it’s poorly edited, and it takes too long to get going. But if I’ve been overzealous in trying to make it sound better than it really is, it’s only because 20 years of critics — including some of Peckinpah’s biggest defenders — have busied themselves trying to make it sound worse than it really is. It’s an accomplished film with excellent performances and extremely memorable scenes, and all the attributes a discriminating viewer would expect from a Sam Peckinpah project. He may not have gone out at the very top of his game, but neither did he go out at the bottom; when he had to go, he went down swinging.


  • It will be a weekend to remember...if they survive it!
  • The one weekend of the year you won't want to miss.
  • What would you do if a total stranger proved to you that your three closest friends were Soviet Agents?


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