Weird Wednesday

THE SILENT PARTNER

Director Daryl Duke
Year 1978
Starring Elliot Gould, Christopher Plummer, Susannah York
Run Time 106min
More Info IMDb

Movie production and distribution is a shady netherworld. The money for films has come from every quarter, from international prostitution and blackmail to Nazi gold. But the most frequently used extra-revenue stream was and is, government subsidies and tax shelters. In the ‘70s, Canada had a whopper of a shell game going. Producers were able to make films in Canada and, through a system of write-offs and reporting irregularities, they could turn a profit even on unsuccessful product. The resulting films, international coproductions mostly, are now known fondly as Canuxploitation movies. Not all Canuxploitation films were tax dodges, but many were. I’m not 100% sure about THE SILENT PARTNER, and I don’t much care, because whatever the circumstances of its creation, it is one of the best movies of the ‘70s. Elliott Gould stars as a bank teller who spies a way to steal a lot of money from his till and get away with it. The problem with his plan is that he antagonizes a real bank robber, who’s also a real mean dude (played brilliantly by Christopher Plummer). Plummer, who has cased and robbed the bank in the guise of a department store Santa, puts the pieces together fairly quickly and starts to make Gould’s life a living hell. But Gould, a chess enthusiast with a mind for strategy, counters every move. Soon the two man are involved in a real life game with their lives and freedom at stake. The tension ratchets up to an unbearable intensity before the sublime conclusion. Written by Curtis Hanson and directed by Daryl Duke (PAYDAY). With large Canadian funnyman John Candy in a small role. (Lars)

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