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A Movie A Day: THE SILENT PARTNER (1979)
Give me the money, fucker.

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day. [For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection or from my DVR and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.] Today’s movie is one I’ve been hoping to get to for a while now. I originally bought it on Moriarty’s advice, the idea to throw it in with the other random horror movies during the HMAD October. He assured me that even though it was a heist movie that it’d fit right in with the list, especially if I had something like WAIT UNTIL DARK in the queue.

And he was right. Christopher Plummer’s Harry Reikle could comfortably compete with Alan Arkin’s Harry Roat for King Crazy of Psycho Mountain. Elliott Gould plays the titular Silent Partner, a bank teller who stumbles across the planning of a robbery of his bank. The quiet, introverted man finds a note left behind when the robber got cold feet, demanding cash, as he cleans up one night. Through his own powers of observation he figures out who the would-be robber is… the Santa Claus in the mall where the Canadian bank is located. He also figures out the man’s pattern and then decides to take a risk. Gould’s boss is a douchebag, cheating on his wife with Susannah York (Superman’s mommy), Gould’s fellow bank worker and object of his own desires… in short, he has no love for his employer and is smart enough to pull off a double cross. When the Santa comes in the next day the conditions are perfect and the Santa approaches the window, hands over his note and Gould pulls all the money from his till (minus the major Christmas deposites from the retailers, which have been going directly into a lunch box under his till) and hands it over, tripping the alarm.

The Santa gets away and Gould plays it as if the man got away with more than the two grand in his till while pocketing the other $50,000 himself. What he doesn’t count on is this Santa being fucking crazy and growing a rather large vendetta after he realizes this teller is running off with the money he’s accused of stealing. The Santa is, of course, Christopher Plummer and we see the rage simmer as he watches the news broadcast about the robbery… It’s quite off-putting, only compounded when he gets a whore and beats the living shit out of her… including slowly crushing her head with his bare foot.

She doesn’t die, but he is able to vent a little bit and heads out. What could easily have turned into a typical thriller instead takes a pretty awesome cat and mouse turn. Plummer has Gould beat in the crazy department, but Gould is nobody’s fool. He can be intimidated, but when a line is crossed Gould uses his intellect to really put the screws back onto Plummer. The game is even set up visually when Gould first returns to his apartment and sees it has been ransacked. His chess set is set up by the window, the one working light aimed down on it. He communicates with Plummer via the phone, but sees him from the window. Plummer always calls from the payphone right next to the building on the street.

The movie gets extremely violent, surprisingly violent, with one of the harshest and most fucked up decapitations I think I’ve ever seen. It’s not the most graphic (the best onscreen decapitation is still David Warner’s amazing spinning head in THE OMEN), but in terms of brutality it’s right up there. The filmmaking by Daryl Duke is a tad amateurish, but the hand-held and sparcely lit style does work for the movie. Curtis Hanson (director of 8 MILE and WONDER BOYS) acts as writer and producer and did a fantastic job on the script, adapted from Anders Bodelsen’s novel. He created two fantastic forces of nature. On one hand you have the raw fury of Plummer and on the other is the quiet intelligence of Gould. When they collide it’s pretty spectacular.

We guys get some welcome distractions in the forms of Susannah York and Celine Lomez. Lomez snuggles up next to Gould about halfway through and it’s pretty obvious she has a stake in the crime and is playing her own angle. God bless her for it. She’s gorgeous. Also of note is a very early appearance by John Candy as one of Gould’s co-workers. Man, I miss John Candy so much. He doesn’t have much to do in the movie, but he has a few moments where the John Candy I grew up with in flicks like SPLASH, ARMED AND DANGEROUS and THE GREAT OUTDOORS (to name a few) shined through. The man had such a great, lovable personality. Just thinking about those films is making me really sad. At any rate, it was good to see more of him in this flick. Final Thoughts: THE SILENT PARTNER is a raw, fucked up cat and mouse movie that is ten times more hardcore than anything you’ll see in theaters today, even indie theaters. The film is a fantastic character piece that takes two great character actors and smashes them together repeatedly. The resulting sparks make for a brilliant little underseen gem of a movie. I can’t recommend this one more… and if you’re not fucking terrified by Christopher Plummer in drag then you might not be a human being.

Here’s what we have lined up for the next week: Saturday, December 27th: PAYDAY (1972)

Sunday, December 28th: A STRANGER IS WATCHING (1982)

Monday, December 29th: THE NEW KIDS (1985)

Tuesday, December 30th: SERIAL (1980)

Wednesday, December 31st: THE PRIVATE LIFE OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1970)

Thursday, January 1st: IRMA LA DOUCE (1963)

Friday, January 2nd: THE PRISONER OF SECOND AVENUE (1974)

Almost caught up. Will have my Payday review written up before I sleep for the day and that should get me to current. We follow director Daryl Duke over to that flick, starring Rip Torn. See you folks then! -Quint

Previous Movies: June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
July 24th: The Big Steal
July 25th: Where Danger Lives
July 26th: Crossfire
July 27th: Ricco, The Mean Machine
July 28th: In Harm’s Way
July 29th: Firecreek
July 30th: The Cheyenne Social Club
July 31st: The Man Who Knew Too Much
August 1st: The Spirit of St. Louis
August 2nd: Von Ryan’s Express
August 3rd: Can-Can
August 4th: Desperate Characters
August 5th: The Possession of Joel Delaney
August 6th: Quackser Fortune Has A Cousin In The Bronx
August 7th: Start the Revolution Without Me
August 8th: Hell Is A City
August 9th: The Pied Piper
August 10th: Partners
August 11th: Barry Lyndon
August 12th: The Skull
August 13th: The Hellfire Club
August 14th: Blood of the Vampire
August 15th: Terror of the Tongs
August 16th: Pirates of Blood River
August 17th: The Devil-Ship Pirates
August 18th: Jess Franco’s Count Dracula
August 19th: Dracula A.D. 1972
August 20th: The Stranglers of Bombay
August 21st: Man, Woman & Child
August 22nd: The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane
August 23rd: The Young Philadelphians
August 24th: The Rack
August 25th: Until They Sail
August 26th: Somebody Up There Likes Me
August 27th: The Set-Up
August 28th: The Devil & Daniel Webster
August 29th: Cat People
August 30th: The Curse of the Cat People
August 31st: The 7th Victim
September 1st: The Ghost Ship
September 2nd: Isle of the Dead
September 3rd: Bedlam
September 4th: Black Sabbath
September 5th: Black Sunday
September 6th: Twitch of the Death Nerve
September 7th: Tragic Ceremony
September 8th: Lisa & The Devil
September 9th: Baron Blood
September 10th: A Shot In The Dark
September 11th: The Pink Panther
September 12th: The Return of the Pink Panther
September 13th: The Pink Panther Strikes Again
September 14th: Revenge of the Pink Panther
September 15th: Trail of the Pink Panther
September 16th: The Real Glory
September 17th: The Winning of Barbara Worth
September 18th: The Cowboy and the Lady
September 19th: Dakota
September 20th: Red River
September 21st: Terminal Station
September 22nd: The Search
September 23rd: Act of Violence
September 24th: Houdini
September 25th: Money From Home
September 26th: Papa’s Delicate Condition
September 27th: Dillinger
September 28th: Battle of the Bulge
September 29th: Daisy Kenyon
September 30th: Laura
October 1st: The Dunwich Horror
October 2nd: Experiment In Terror
October 3rd: The Devil’s Rain
October 4th: Race With The Devil
October 5th: Salo, Or The 120 Days of Sodom
October 6th: Bad Dreams
October 7th: The House Where Evil Dwells
October 8th: Memories of Murder
October 9th: The Hunger
October 10th: I Saw What You Did
October 11th: I Spit On Your Grave
October 12th: Naked You Die
October 13th: The Wraith
October 14th: Silent Night, Bloody Night
October 15th: I Bury The Living
October 16th: The Beast Must Die
October 17th: Hellgate
October 18th: He Knows You’re Alone
October 19th: The Thing From Another World
October 20th: The Fall of the House of Usher
October 21st: Audrey Rose
October 22nd: Who Slew Auntie Roo?
October 23rd: Wait Until Dark
October 24th: Dead & Buried
October 25th: A Bucket of Blood
October 26th: The Bloodstained Shadow
October 27th: I, Madman
October 28th: Return to Horror High
October 29th: Die, Monster, Die
October 30th: Epidemic
October 31st: Student Bodies
November 1st: Black Widow
November 2nd: The Ghost & Mrs. Muir
November 3rd: Flying Tigers
November 4th: Executive Action
November 5th: The Busy Body
November 6th: It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad World
November 7th: Libeled Lady
November 8th: Up The River
November 9th: Doctor Bull
November 10th: Judge Priest
November 11th: Ten Little Indians
November 12th: Murder On The Orient Express
November 13th: Daniel
November 14th: El Dorado
November 15th: The Gambler
November 16th: Once Upon A Time In America
November 17th: Salvador
November 18th: Best Seller
November 19th: The Holcroft Covenant
November 20th: Birdman of Alcatraz
November 21st: The Train
November 22nd: Gunfight At The O.K. Corral
November 23rd: Mystery Street
November 24th: Border Incident
November 25th: The Tin Star
November 26th: On The Beach
November 27th: Twelve O’Clock High
November 28th: Gentleman’s Agreement
November 29th: Panic In The Streets
November 30th: The Hot Rock
December 1st: Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
December 2nd: The Day of the Dolphin
December 3rd: Carnal Knowledge
December 4th: The Cincinnati Kid
December 5th: Pocketful of Miracles
December 6th: Mikey & Nicky
December 7th: Two-Minute Warning
December 8th: The Sentinel
December 9th: How To Steal A Million
December 10th: What’s New Pussycat?
December 11th: Being There
December 17th: The Party
December 18th: Casino Royale
December 19th: The StrangerDecember 20th: Brother Orchid
December 21st: The Petrified Forest
December 22nd: Moontide
December 23rd: Notorious
December 24th: The Inn of the Sixth Happiness
December 25th: The High Commissioner

Readers Talkback
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  • Dec. 28, 2008, 4 a.m. CST


    by Giphangster


  • Dec. 28, 2008, 4:03 a.m. CST

    "first" posters

    by Prossor

    are as bad as people who talk in theaters. and should be placed into ditches and shot in the backs of their fucking waste of calcium skulls.

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 4:08 a.m. CST

    I think you need to get laid.

    by Giphangster


  • Dec. 28, 2008, 4:40 a.m. CST

    This was a great little movie......

    by Aloy

    Haven't seen it for a long time and I'm glad to hear it holds up well. Christopher Plummer is a badass.

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 6:20 a.m. CST

    I saw this ,in the theater , when I was 10 !

    by Morpheus777

    I loved it then ,i remember it every time I see Either of the leads. .My old man took me , when going to flicks that might be little hard to follow for a kid .He would talk me through them ,Aw it was horrifying then because people would Shhhhh him , which would bring a swift invitation to kiss his ass to the Shhsher .But I digress ,I remember watching the scared guy turn hard and use his witts to beat the bad guy .Elliot was Awesome ,and even when I see him as a bumbling Father on "Friends' I still think of this movie .I will be looking to get it after your review ,to watch with some friends here .I live in Romania now ,lots of Movie Buffs here .If I coulkd get prints of old flix like this , please tell me how ,we could definetly to a great Festival here and have it be HUGE!

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 7:50 a.m. CST

    I totally concur.

    by johnnyangelheart

    This movie blew me away when I first saw it about thirty years ago. Unforgettable. In some ways Elliot Gould's best performance. I cringe when I see him in those Ocean movies.

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 8:06 a.m. CST

    Thanks for this one Quint

    by palimpsest

    Never even heard of this flick before, so I'll keep an eye out for it. You've got some treats coming up with the Jack Lemmon movies. And the Billy Wilder PRIVATE LIFE is stunning. Best Holmes movie ever.

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 8:29 a.m. CST

    "David Warner's amazing spinning head..."

    by pilotgrl

    Another priceless line, Quint. Please, please continue to find the time to do these reviews. I was not familiar with this film but it's now in the queue and I am now looking forward to seeing it.

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 9:24 a.m. CST

    Hey, you've got some interesting movies coming up!

    by sonnyfern

    This one sounds amazing! I'll have to splurge and pick it up. You've got The New Kids on the list! I haven't seen that one since I was a teenager! WOW!

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 9:31 a.m. CST

    Scanners was the best decapitation

    by tangcameo

    Especially if you recognized the actor from the Canadian show Seeing Things. One too many visions and BOOM!

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 11:58 a.m. CST

    Awesome Chris Plummer marathon!!!

    by picardsucks

    How about his awesome take on Sherlock Holmes were he battles Jack the Ripper. ne of the best Holmes adventures to hit the screen and though James Mason was horribly miscast (why do they always cast an old fuddy duddy as Watson???) the film was terrific Christopher Plummer is an amazing actor. Just about everything he has ever been in has been good when you go down his resume. also played the best Klingon ever (fuck the next gen era viking, noble samurai, navajo-esque Kilingons buried in too much makeup) Plummer was a perfect foil for Kirk. I also loved him in Battle of Britain which is a stunning looking Blu-Ray on a 73" DLP

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 1:42 p.m. CST

    Ahh, The Infamous Aquarium Decapitation...

    by Rebeck2

    Definitely one of the most gloriously fucked-up deaths in movie history. I dare anyone to watch that and not squirm out of your seat - it's an involuntary reaction. Especially effective because nothing in the movie prepares you. You're right, the direction is very pedestrian, but Curtis Hanson shows his devilish intelligence and it's a smart, creepy thriller. One of the few films I wouldn't mind seeing remade and updated, as long as it stayed true to the concept - and ideally by Hanson himself!

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 2:33 p.m. CST


    by Jackie Boy

    I really want to see this fucking movie now. You're the best Quint.

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 3:28 p.m. CST


    by Prossor

    have, but you still need to get in that ditch.

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 4:13 p.m. CST

    For great s.o.b. Performances and elliot Gould......

    by earlfist

    Check "The long Goodbye" and mark rydell! You have some great movies coming up(well 2 and half great movies) one of which is a total masterpiece. You lucky bastard. Haven't seen silent partner in years but (and I can't believe I'm about to suggest a Steve Guttenberg movie) curtis hansons "the bedroom window" another corner!

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 4:25 p.m. CST

    Fucking iphone

    by earlfist

    That should end "corker"

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 5 p.m. CST


    by drew mcweeny

    So glad you finally watched this one, Quint. I remember the first time I saw it... I was in my early teens, it was a late night cable movie, and the fishtank scene has stuck with me ever since. Great little forgotten gem, and with PAYDAY up next, you're on a really nice run right now.

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 5:34 p.m. CST

    It's also one of the best Canadian films of the era...

    by Pdorwick

    Made during the height of the terrible "tax write-off" period of Canadian cinema, it actually managed to be quite an admirable piece of work.

  • Dec. 28, 2008, 6:51 p.m. CST

    One helluva film....

    by PolarCow

    Was planning on recommending this one to you when I read the Wait Until Dark review. Glad to see I wasn't the only one. A great, little seen thriller....and made me never want another aquarium. Do want to throw one recommendation out there, though how you would come by a copy, I have no idea. Don't believe it ever made it to DVD, though it has shown up on Encore and TMC every once in a while. Alan Arkush's Get Crazy would make an inspired New Year's choice. To this day, my vote for the funniest flick that no one knows exists. You haven't lived until you've seen Lou Reed doing Dylan.

  • Dec. 29, 2008, 3:13 a.m. CST

    Just ordered this from Amazon

    by aversiontherapy2

    By coincidence this was playing on TV a couple of nights ago, I caught it about 20 minutes in and instantly realised I should be watching it from the beginning, so ordered the DVD. My father confirmed that it's something I should watch all the way through. I didn't read much of your review to keep things a surprise but it's hard to go wrong with Elliot Gould in the 70s.

  • Dec. 29, 2008, 9:06 a.m. CST

    Between those MASHers from the '70s

    by skimn

    Who would've thought that Elliot Gould would become the schleppiest of character actors (see The Big Hit, Friends, etc.), and Donald Sutherland would be the cool one..?<p>Another forgotten Gould gem with Robert Altman from the seventies...California Split.

  • Dec. 29, 2008, 9:25 a.m. CST

    Tremendous movie

    by Drunken Rage

    Goddamn, Susannah York was beautiful. Terrific little thriller, but goddamn she was hot.

  • Dec. 29, 2008, 11:03 a.m. CST

    Daw that movie on HBO years ago

    by jtp8000

    Maybe 20 or so still sticks with me. The aquarium scene was too much and Plummer saying his mother didn't raise any fools and then dressing in drag was defintely an homage to Psycho

  • Dec. 29, 2008, 2:45 p.m. CST

    This Film Rocks

    by pomophobe

    I saw this movie a while back on City TV (Toronto, Canada) and then bought the DVD, I've watched it a few times since. It's a clever and fun film without any over elaborate or unjustified action. The characters and set up are articulated really well. Elliot Gould and Christopher Plummer are great and bounce really well off of one another. A really under appreciated flick that does what most suspense films (i.e. Eagle Eye, Lakeview Terrace, etc) can't... Deliver.

  • Aug. 26, 2009, 9:41 a.m. CST

    the silent partner

    by stevewright1965

    wish it was my face being crushed under christopher plummers sweaty barefoot!

  • Aug. 26, 2009, 9:48 a.m. CST

    the silent partner wish it was my face being crushed under chri

    by stevewright1965

    i have jerked off so many times wishing it was my face he crushed underfoot, any takers?