The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)

R   |    |  Biography, Crime, Drama

The Falcon and the Snowman (1985) Poster

The true story of a disillusioned military contractor employee and his drug pusher childhood friend who became walk-in spies for the Soviet Union.




  • Timothy Hutton in The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
  • Timothy Hutton and Sean Penn in The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
  • Sean Penn in The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
  • John Schlesinger in The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
  • Dustin Hoffman at an event for The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)
  • Shelley Hack and Harry Winer at an event for The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

17 March 1999 | Nat-21
| Gripping, realistic account
This movie does an excellent job of taking us all the way through the dark tunnel of espionage, from the inception through the ultimate reckoning. The movie's impact is made even deeper with the realization that it is based on a true story. Timothy Hutton provides us with a quality, understated performance and Sean Penn demonstrates why he is one of America's finest living actors. As with "Midnight Express," this movie should make us all think twice about doing something we shouldn't be doing in a foreign country.

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Did You Know?


Christopher Boyce uses a numeric cipher to send messages to the Soviets while keeping Daulton Lee unaware of their meaning. The cipher is nearly identical to the one the real Boyce used for this purpose (described by Robert Lindsey in his book, upon which this movie is based). In the movie, Boyce's cipher works like this. First, number the alphabet's letters sequentially - e.g., A = 1, G = 7, Y = 25. Second, multiply these numbers by seven (A, G, and Y become 7, 49, and 175 respectively). Finally, reverse the digits (so A, G, Y become 7, 94, and 571). The message Boyce photographs in his bathroom decrypts to "good will towards men the falcon"; and while his earlier encrypted message that "the courier is undependable" is more or less gibberish (perhaps because he's still calculating it), the last few numbers decrypt to "falcon." The real Boyce's cipher differed only in that the first step was to assign numbers to letters in reverse order - i.e., Z = 1, Y = 2, et cetera - but from there proceeds identically. Boyce did not receive instructions from the Soviets but invented this cipher himself, reasoning that it would be child's play for the Soviets to break but beyond Lee's ability to decrypt.


Christopher Boyce: It wouldn't have made a difference. I freely chose my response to this absurd world. If given the opportunity, I would have been more vigorous.


At the end of the movie, Christopher Boyce and Daulton Lee are being transferred to jail after sentencing. They are shown in blue jumpsuits marked with "L. A. County jail". They were, in fact, imprisoned at the Federal Correctional Institution, Terminal Island and their jumpsuits would have been marked accordingly.

Alternate Versions

Due to music licensing issues, most modern home video and streaming releases of the film remove almost all of the pop songs. Only the David Bowie song over the end credits and "All Right Now" by Free remain in this version of the film.


All Right Now
Written by
Andy Fraser and Paul Rodgers
Performed by Free
Courtesy of A & M Records, Inc. and Island Music Inc.


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Biography | Crime | Drama | Thriller

Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,358,846 27 January 1985

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:


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