'The Silent Partner'
(Elliott Gould, Christopher Plummer, Susannah York, et al / DVD / R / (1999) 2007 / LGF)
Overview: The Silent Partner stars Miles Cullen (Elliott Gould) as a teller who gets wind of master criminal Harry Reikle's (Christopher Plummer) scheme to rob his bank.
DVD Verdict: I saw this great movie when it was released in 1978 and I seemed to remember being floored at how good it was then. I asked to review this new DVD, unsure if it would stand up to the rather towering impression it had on me nearly 30 years ago. I was both shocked and relieved to find it as good, or even better, than I remembered it!
This movie is set in present-day ('78) Toronto. Christmas is nearing. Cash flow at the bank is at a seasonal high. Miles Cullen (Elliott Gould), a mild-mannered teller, innocently uncovers evidence that the bank may be robbed at almost any time. Before bank robber Reikle (Christopher Plummer) can successfully strike, Miles comes to realize who he is, by face, if not by name. However, Miles ends up deciding not to tell anyone. Instead, he finds himself succumbing to the temptation to, at the point in time of the inevitable hold-up, giving the robber the smallest fraction of cash availible in his cash drawer, claiming that that is all there is, having, seconds prior to the hold-up, secretly diverted the rest to his personal briefcase - to be simply carried home with him, after the authorities have come, secured the crime scene and ultimately let everyone go. But, fleeing the teller window, running toward the bank's main entrance door, the crook draws the attention of a nearby bank security guard. The robber draws his pistol as he runs out the door and up the nearest escalator and the guard draws his.
In the sequence of the ensuing shoot-out in a mall packed with panicking seasonal shoppers, the camera slowly zooms in on Gould as he looks on - his face practically frozen in a glazed look of almost imperceptably mounting dread - to emphasize to us not merely that something quite possibly lethal has been set in motion, but, that HE, not primarily the bank robber, is morally and psychologically responsible for the events to follow - both in this scene and for the rest of the film(!). It's a scene straight out of Hitchcock. And it works beautifully. It's the first genuine taste of what the rest of the film will be centered around - a leathal cat-and-mouse game between the in-over-his-head teller and one alarmingly uninhibited crook - who does not respond well to being out-smarted, to say the least!
But, I will attempt to divulge the plot no further - except to say that it has as many twists and turns as any Elmore Leonard vehicle, but, even more remarkably, has an absolutely airtight script, as well - a truely winning combination!
The performances by all are very good, but, I think the most outstanding is Plummer's. His depiction of a sexually skewed, passive/aggressive thug bent on revenge is highly memorable. The scene in which he confronts Elaine from behind the prison's glass visitation screen is devastatingly intimidating as he exudes sheer, calculating, cold-blooded, predatory threat. Then there's the scene where he gives Miles a little bit of advice through the mail slot. It still creeps me out. He is not given too much screen time, but, he more than makes the most of it!
It's been said that you'll never watch "The Sound Of Music" quite the same way again. How true. But, it only goes to show that Christopher Plummer has one of the most diverse ranges of characters, in his repertoire, of any actor's career - that I can think of, anyway. If you like him in this one, try catching him in a little movie called "The Royal Hunt Of The Sun".
The DVD transfer on this disc is less than stellar, but still very good. The colors are fine, but (uncharacteristically in respect to more recent DVD re-releases), the resolutuion is a bit soft, but, not fatally so. There's only one disc in the clam-shell box, it is anamorphic 1.85 to 1, and the run time is stated as 105 minutes. Some have claimed the DVD has been cut for some of its violence, but, I can tell you it has not. The sound is mono. Except for a single choice of subtitles, there are no extras. As it is, for myself, I'm more than pleased to finally have an un-cut, properly framed, anamorphic, DVD version of this far-too-long, unavailable movie. Way recommended. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs, but comes with no Special Features.