Sunday, January 20, 2013

British Radio Advert Not on the DVD: The Silent Partner (1978, Daryl Duke)

The late Daryl Duke mostly directed for television in his native Canada, but there were a handful of feature credits as well, which include two superior films: Payday and The Silent Partner.  The former, from 1973, is a particularly dark and uncompromising character piece starring Rip Torn as an out-of-control, ego-maniacal country singer.  Made at a time when there was no shortage of provocative, challenging character studies, often of deeply flawed people, Payday stands out for its unvarnished view of its rather unappetizing main player and his world.  It's highly recommended, as is The Silent Partner, made five years later.

Just past his peak years of stardom, Elliott Gould headlines this Canadian tax-shelter jewel, as a mild-mannered bank clerk who tangles with a vicious thief played by recent Oscar winner Christopher Plummer.  Canadian Plummer looks to be returning home and getting as far away from the Sound of Music and Broadway as possible, relishing the brutality of his character here.  The always interesting Susannah York co-stars as one of two women in Gould's life.  French-Canadian singer and sex symbol Celine Lomez is the aforementioned "other woman" and a very young John Candy appears, in a fairly straight role, as a fellow bank employee.

The Silent Partner was based on Anders Bodelsen's novel Think of a Number, which was adapted by Palle Kjærulff-Schmidt for a 1969 film of the same title.  Both, alas, are unavailable in English translations, as far as I can tell.  For The Silent Partner screenplay, future White Dog scribe and L.A. Confidential helmer Curtis Hanson very adroitly moves the narrative from its native Denmark to North America.

EDIT: I was a bit hasty in writing that Bodelsen's novel wasn't available in English, as one commentor helpfully pointed out to me.  It's the original Danish film adaptation that appears to remain un-translated into English.  It appears the book was first available to English speakers in the late '60s, making it a little easier for screenwriter Curtis Hanson to adapt the novel than I had previously imagined.

The Silent Partner DVD from Lionsgate is barebones, but, most importantly, is 16x9.  I haven't located a trailer yet, but this radio advert from England (featuring a North American-accented English v.o.) is an entertaining diversion for fans of the film.


Marc Edward Heuck said...

A trailer for THE SILENT PARTNER does exist; it's in the inventory of the New Beverly Cinema in Hollywood. Last December, when Edgar Wright did his last programming block there, I was invited to choose the vintage trailers that played before the movies, and PARTNER was part of the lineup, playing in front of CUTTER'S WAY.

AKA said...

Thanks for this. I love THE SILENT PARTNER.

Anders Bodelsen's novel was available in an English translation (at least in the UK and now long out-of-print) and released as a movie tie-in. Here's the cover of my copy of the book:

Ned Merrill said...


Thanks for the tip. Does that tie-in version have a copyright for the English translation? I wonder if it was available previously...or, if Curtis Hanson (who I assume is NOT fluent in Danish) had a private translation done for him so that he could adapt the novel for the SILENT PARTNER screenplay.


Good on you for picking PARTNER to run in Wright's festival! Wish I could've been there. I've no doubt there's a trailer for the film...I meant that I couldn't locate it online anywhere.

Ned Merrill said...


Now, I can see, by doing a little more searching, that the book's been available in English since '68.

AKA said...

Yes, it does have a copyright for the English translation:

"Translation copyright (c) Harper and Row, Publishers, Incorporated, and Michael Joseph Ltd, 1969"

Also FYI: it was translated from the Danish by David Hohnen.

What makes it even more confusing is that it appears that it was first published in the UK as "Think of a Number" by Michael Joseph.

Ned Merrill said...

There are many copies available used and most of them acknowledge the David Hohnen translation...I believe you can see it on the cover of at least one of the images I uploaded.

Re: Michael Joseph...yes, that is confusing.