Here are 10 trivia facts about The Silent Partner from 1979, which originally appeared as our Mystery Movie Quiz on our Facebook page. There are hundreds of pieces of behind-the-scenes information about this movie. Please feel free to comment and add more trivia we might have missed.
1. This is not considered a holiday movie but it is set around the holidays.
It’s Christmastime at the mall and Christopher Plummer is the mall Santa. While everyone in town is decking the halls and resting ye merry gentlemen, Santa, who we learn is very dishonest, has his sights set on robbing the mall bank. Elliott Gould as the bank teller gets wind of the coming heist (see the movie to find out how) and when “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” Plummer is outwitted when Gould decides he needs to “have himself a merry little Christmas” at Santa’s expense.
The movie soundtrack for The Silent Partner was both composed and performed by jazz great Oscar Peterson. As a Canadian native, born in Montreal, Peterson won many awards including Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2005 when he was 80, he was pictured on a commemorative Canadian postage stamp, the first person to be honored during his lifetime other than a reigning monarch.
3. The film is set in a major North American city.
Based on Danish author Anders Bodelsen’s novel, “Think of A Number,” set in Sweden and Tunisia, it has been brilliantly transported to Canada by screenwriter Curtis Hanson, mostly filmed at the Toronto Eaton Centre, which was brand-spanking new at the time.
In addition to being a talented writer, Curtis Hanson is also an actor, producer and director. The Silent Partner was filmed 20 years before directing his Academy Award-winning L.A. Confidential.
4. A gruesome murder occurs in the film.
If you love collecting tropical fish, skip any scenes in this movie with fish tanks! It is sufficient to say that Christopher Plummer is at his most psychotic and disturbing in this film and the graphic murder scenes are hard for some viewers to watch.
Although there are carnal scenes between Elliott Gould and Céline Lomez, it is Gould and bank co-worker Susannah York who walk into the sunset together.
Regarding films from the late 1970s, it was almost obligatory for women to appear topless in love scenes — this film is no exception.
6. The lead actress starred with her real-life children in a TV remake of a popular Christmas story.
In addition to acting, Susannah York is also an author of children’s books and in 1984, she co-starred with her children Orlando Wells and Sasha Wells in a television production of A Christmas Carol. She portrayed Mrs. Crachit and her children played young Crachits; David Warner was Bob Crachit and starred George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge.
7. One of the lead cast members is a renowned Shakespearean actor.
Christopher Plummer, a Canadian actor of stage, film and television is probably best known the world over as Captain von Trapp in The Sound of Music. But it is his penchant for Shakespeare that has kept him active in live theatre from his first initiation in the 1940s. Through the years, he has played most of the great roles of classic repertoire including Hamlet, Lear, Iago, and as Prospero in The Tempest. Plummer is considered to be the premier North American Shakespearean actor in the 20th century. Once asked why he prefers playing evil roles, he said, “The devil is more interesting than God.”
8. The film’s star was an Executive Producer of a Woody Allen film.
Elliott Gould and Woody Allen have history. Allen was considering Gould for the lead in Deconstructing Harry but a conflict with scheduling kept him out of the running. They did get together earlier in 1972 when Gould served as executive producer for Allen’s Every Thing You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask. He was reportedly also slated to appear in that film but supposedly backed out.
9. An SCTV alumnus appears in the film.
John Candy was among the funniest and most talented Canadian characters. Although he serves up the comic relief in his small role in this movie, Candy was just a kid at the time and it should be remembered that he hadn’t yet hit the Hollywood big time which he did three years later in Stripes (1981) with buds Harold Ramis and Bill Murray. In 1994, while in Mexico, John Candy suffered a fatal heart attack at age 43. He was considered one of Hollywod’s genuinely nice guys who never had a bad word to say about anyone.
10. This film won the Canadian Film Award for Best Feature Film.
Actually, The Silent Partner won two Canadian Film Awards in 1978. In addition to winning Best Feature Film, it also won for Best Overall Sound. The movie did not show in the US until March 1979 and there has always been a discrepancy as to whether this film is from 1978 or 1979 and the movie poster shown here probably did not help sell this movie regardless of year.