The Silent Partner
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 105 min
Tiberius Film Productions Ltd.
Miles Cullen (Elliott Gould), a mild-mannered Toronto bank clerk attracted to his co-worker Julie (Susannah York), anticipates a holdup planned by Harry Reikle (Christopher Plummer), who is disguised as the local mall Santa Claus. Miles manages to divert some of the stolen money into his own briefcase, transferring it the next day to a safety deposit box, but Harry is aware of the deception and comes after Miles looking for vengeance. Miles has him arrested on another charge and imprisoned.
Miles then begins an affair with Julie, but is distracted by Elaine (Céline Lomez), only to discover she has been sent by Harry to seduce him into revealing where the money is hidden. But Elaine falls in love with Miles and decides to cut Harry out of his own scheme. Suddenly released from jail, Harry realizes the double-cross and, in what remains one of the most violently graphic scenes in Canadian film, kills Elaine in Miles’s apartment. Miles buries Elaine’s body and, after further threats from Harry, agrees to hand over the money – insisting they meet in public, at the bank. But at their rendezvous, Miles again gets the upper hand; Harry shoots and wounds Miles, but is then killed by a security guard. Miles is taken to the hospital, accompanied by Julie and the briefcase full of money.
The Silent Partner was one of the first films made during the tax-shelter era and one of the few critical and commercial successes of that time; it was also one of the few films of that period to make clear its Toronto setting. Daryl Duke’s direction is assured and Christopher Plummer gives one of his best performances as the psychopathic thief, but the script by Curtis Hanson (who later won Hollywood fame for writing and directing L.A. Confidential, 1997) contains distracting elements of sexism and sadism.
The Silent Partner won six Canadian Film Awards, including Feature Film (Stephen Young, Joel B. Michaels, Garth H. Drabinsky), Direction (Duke), Film Editing (George Appleby) and Music Score (Oscar Peterson).