Showing posts with label Christopher Plummer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Christopher Plummer. Show all posts

Monday, October 30, 2017

The High Commissioner (1968)

Police Sergeant Scobie Malone (Rod Taylor) was summoned from his ranch for a government mission, one of importance but also shrouded in mystery. Australia's High Commissioner, Sir Quentin (Christopher Plummer) is wanted for the murder of his first wife. Malone heads to London to arrest Quentin but what seems like a straightforward job is not what it seems. Quentin is in the middle of a very serious negotiations with foreign nations to prevent a world crisis. He pleads with Malone to give him just enough time to finish his negotiations and he will willingly head back to Sydney with Malone to face the charges. However, assassins try to kill Quentin before he can go through with his plan. Malone goes from jailer to bodyguard as he tries to protect Quentin. He must also face the three women in Quentin's circle. First there is Lady Quentin (Lilli Palmer), Sir Quentin's wife and confidante. She will do anything and everything to protect her husband. Then there is Quentin's secretary Lisa Pretorious (Camilla Sparv) who is also fiercely protective of his boss. And then there's the exotic Maria Cholon (Dalilah Lavi) who charms the men at Quentin's parties, including Malone, while secretly running a counter spy ring.

Originally released as Nobody Runs Forever, The High Commissioner (1968) was directed by British filmmaker Ralph Thomas. The story was based on Australian author Jon Cleary's novel The High Commissioner which was originally published in 1966. Meant to be a stand-alone story about police inspector Scobie Malone, the first novel was so popular Cleary subsequently wrote 19 more detective novels featuring the same character. Cleary's Malone novels and other stories were adapted into movies and TV shows over 20 times. He also wrote The Sundowners. When Nobody Runs Forever was released in the US later in 1968 the title was changed to match Cleary's novel.

The High Commissioner was filmed on location in London and at Pinewood Studios. There is one aerial shot of Sydney Harbor and you can see the beginning construction of the Sydney Opera House in the background. There is also a scene at a Wimbledon game later on in the film. Produced by indie Katzka-Berne Productions, as well as other production companies including Rod Taylor's Rodlor, unfortunately the film did not perform well at the box office and proved to be a financial loss.

Rod Taylor and Christopher Plummer

This is a shame because as a political espionage, this movie has a lot to offer. It's got world politics, action, sex, betrayal and clashing cultures. Rod Taylor is in his element as a rough-and-tough Australian police sergeant. This part is not stretch for him by any means. Christopher Plummer is incredibly charming as the heroic yet pained Sir Quentin. He smolders on screen. Lady Quentin, played by Lilli Palmer, is much older than her husband. In fact Palmer was 15 years older than Plummer. However the age difference is never brought up in the film, something I found surprising and rather refreshing. It's clear there is an age difference but Sir Quentin isn't with her for political gain or for money. They simply love each other and this is made very clear in the movie. I wonder if this was an element of the story that was kept from the original novel or added to the movie. Some notable performances include Clive Revill as Joseph, the Quentin's butler who butts heads with Malone and secretly works as an agent. The High Commissioner was the last film for Franchot Tone who makes a brief appearance as Ambassador Townsend who in the story is bedridden in the city hospital. It's also the final film for Trinidadian singer and actor Edric Connor who has a small role as a foreign diplomat. Connor passed away a few months after the film was released.

The High Commissioner (1968) is quite satisfying. It had a lot of what I love about films from that era without being campy. It's a serious thriller with some implausible scenarios that require the audience to suspend their disbelief. The movie is beautifully shot, has some fine performances and is overall very enjoyable.

The High Commissioner is being released later next month from Kino Lorber on DVD and Blu-Ray. I watched the Blu-Ray which was quite a treat. Thank you to Kino Lorber for sending me this movie for review.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Christopher Plummer's Hand and Footprint Ceremony

TCL Chinese Theatre

On a bright and sunny Hollywood morning, a crowd gathered at the Grauman’s Chinese Theatre courtyard for a very special event. Veteran actor Christopher Plummer’s hand and footprints were to be enshrined forever in cement, a tribute to the lasting legacy of Hollywood and the enduring magic of the movies.

Jessica, Nora, me and KC!
This year’s ceremony felt like a reunion of sorts. The same classic film blogger crew was there from last year; Nora of Nitrate Diva, KC of A Classic Movie Blog and Jessica of Comet Over Hollywood. The only person we were missing was Daniel of Celebrity Cafe.

As we waited for the ceremony to start, we watched as friends and family took their seats. Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek, a fellow Canadian and good friend of Christopher Plummer was the first big name to arrive. In fact all the major celebrity guests were Canadian. Christopher Plummer and William Shatner are both from Quebec, Alex Trebek from Ontario and Shirley MacLaine joked that she was part Canadian when she said “[Plummer is] whole Canadian. I’m just half. I’m the top half, not the bottom half.” Americans often forget how many wonderful entertainers hail from the land up north and this event was a good reminder that Canada is an intrinsic part of our entertainment industry.

Alex Trebek arrives for the ceremony
Shirley MacLaine makes her grand entrance
The man of the hour, Christopher Plummer, bearing his signature smile.

William Shatner is ready and caffeinated for his speech.

This event was hosted by the TCL Chinese Theatre and TCM as part of the TCM Classic Film Festival. Robert Osborne usually gives the opening speech at the imprint ceremonies but he was away this year attending to his health. Ben Mankiewicz stepped in and delivered a speech that was dripping with praise for Plummer’s extensive acting career.

Ben Mankiewicz, who was clearly in awe of all of the special guests.

Ben Mankiewicz delivering the opening speech of the event.

Mankiewicz methodically went through all the highlights of Plummer’s various roles over the years. Plummer’s early start consisted of a high school stage production of Pride and Prejudice, he played Mr. Darcy. Mankiewicz went on to say, “since then, Christopher Plummer has enjoyed more than six decades with theater’s and Hollywood’s most respected actors. He has starred in more than 100 movies. Giving some of the signature performances of the last half century.” Plummer has performed in French and English on stage and on radio in Canada. He went on to do dozens of productions on Broadway in New York City and in London’s West End. For his stage work he’s won two Tony Awards and 7 Tony nominations.

Plummer’s transition to Hollywood began with his movie debut in Sidney Lumet’s Stagestruck (1958). He’s still working today with a couple of films currently in production and Elsa & Fred, co-starring Shirley MacLaine, having been released last year. At this year’s festival we were celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Sound of Music (1965) as well as two other Plummer films The Man Who Would Be King (1975) and Malcolm X (1992). Oscars would elude Plummer for years until he finally received his first nomination in 2010 for his role in The Last Station (2009). It wasn’t until 2012 that he won for best supporting actor for his performance in Beginners. His acceptance speech is one of the most charming ones I’ve ever watched. I tend to dislike acceptance speeches but this is a big exception and one I can watch over and over again. If you’ve never seen it, take a moment to watch it here:

Mankiewicz mentioned other important people in Plummer’s life including Plummer’s talented daughter Amanda Plummer and special guests William Shatner and Shirley MacLaine. He went on to say, “TCM is awfully proud to be part of this special day as Christopher’s hand and footprints are enshrined in this magnificent Hollywood setting.”

Shirley MacLaine delivering a heartfelt speech but not forgetting to through in some humor for good measure.

 Up next was actress Shirley MacLaine who happily detailed the long friendship and working career she has shared with Plummer. She peppered her speech with funny anecdotes and jokes. MacLaine credits Plummer with teaching her “how to drink one whole bottle of wine in 15 minutes.” Plummer is supportive of the often quirky MacLaine. He adores her dogs, they regularly have long conversations about deeply personal topics and Plummer has read MacLaine's books and discussed them with her. MacLaine said “he’s really open to the otherness of it all.” She had much praise for Plummer’s one man stage show, A Word or Two, saying “it’s absolutely brilliant that this guy can get up on the stage for two and half hours alone and not miss a beat.” MacLaine’s speech ended with the following:

Shirley MacLaine speaking to Christopher Plummer from the stage.

“Except for all the Jacks I’ve worked with, he’s my favorite screen partner. We have talked and shared many many things together and I will always be grateful for knowing you and working with such an extraordinarily intelligent and sometimes funny partner. I’m here not only to honor that you’re putting your hands and your feet I guess in the cement but I’m here to see how the hell you get up."

William Shatner

Up next was actor William Shatner whose speech was short and to the point. It’s theme: Shatner follows Plummer until they both make it big. Here’s the speech (with some edits):

William Shatner followed in Christopher Plummer's footsteps and now he's here to watch him make footprints in cement.
“Chris... I followed you into the world of Montreal. You were before me, you’re seven years older than I am... I followed you into Canadian radio, CBC in Montreal. We performed in French and English in radio. I followed you... to the Mountain Playhouse in Montreal. I followed you to Ottawa and the Canadian Repertory Theater. I followed you to Toronto where we performed in Canadian radio and won awards... I followed you to New York. I followed to Los Angeles to Hollywood. That means I would follow you anywhere. I WOULD follow you anywhere. But you have to go first. Thank you.“

Christopher Plummer at his imprint ceremony

The man of the hour, Christopher Plummer, delivered a short speech before setting his hand and footprints in cement. He started with some jokes about Shirley MacLaine’s dogs but it quickly turned into a heartfelt and emotional speech. It was clear that Plummer was deeply moved to be honored with this ceremony. As he wiped away a few tears he said,

Christopher Plummer delivering his speech. What an intoxicating smile that man has.
 “I’m immensely, immensely touched that I am part of this glorious history. To Turner Classic Movies I give my sincerest thanks. Please don’t ever stop bringing us joy and enriching our lives as you do. To the TCL Chinese Theatre my eternal gratitude for this amazing stroke of generosity. You’re all living proof that there can never be a future without a past. And lastly to my new found brothers and sisters in arms. My talented new neighbors through life and through death. And those wonderful artists whose grand achievements are forever carved into memory. I promise I won’t spoil the party. Thank you.”

Could someone please give Christopher Plummer an award for best acceptance and ceremony speeches? Because he deserves one. Plummer’s speech made me realize something. The art of speech, the vocal training, the fine tuned language, the poetry and beauty of it all is slipping away from us. Is this something we need to preserve or is this something that will fall away as our culture evolves and changes?

Christopher Plummer setting his footprints in cement.
After Plummer’s eloquent speech, it was time for the grand moment. First were the hand prints and then the footprints.Then it was time to pose for pictures.

Alex Trebek, Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and William Shatner
Christopher Plummer's hand and footprints before the cement hardened.

Plummer wrote his name in the cement but forgot to put the date. It was Friday March 27th, 2015 but I wonder if future generations will look at the imprints and ponder the date they were made. Or if Plummer’s hand and footprints will be timeless in more ways than one.

Self-portrait, i.e. proof I was there.

Thank you so much to TCM for allowing me special access to cover this wonderful event!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sound of Music (1965) Red Carpet Event at the 2015 TCM Classic Film Festival

On March 26th, 2015 TCM held a special 50th Anniversary screening of The Sound of Music (1965) complete with a red carpet event and an interview with stars Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer. While I didn't attend the screening I did get to sit in the bleachers for an excellent view of the red carpet event.

I was 12th in line for the bleacher seats which held around 80 people or so. These are the best seats in the house if you want to gaze at the stars.

A view of the red carpet from the bleacher seats
Walking the red carpet were Spotlight Passholders, VIP media, TCM staffers, TCMFF special guests and presenters, Julie Andrews, Christopher Plummer and more.

Alan Hait on the red carpet
Bloggers Kristina of Speakeasy and Karen of Shadows and Satin on the red carpet
It was great to see familiar faces like Alan Hait, Kristina, Karen Burroughs Hannsbery and Lou Lumenick on the red carpet!

Eddie Muller

TCM's Sean Cameron served as our MC calling out the various guests and doing short interviews.

This woman, I believe her name was Dawn, works for TCM. She handles the talent. Sean Cameron asked her when Doris Day would be coming to TCMFF. She replied that she was going to Doris Day's birthday party the following week and she'd try to convince her to come. I couldn't help but be incredibly jealous of this woman! I'd love to go to Doris Day's birthday party.

Diane Baker

TCM's Charlie Tabesh

Keith Carradine

Robert Morse

TCM's Genevieve McGillicuddy

Leonard Maltin

Julie Andrews is somewhere under the umbrella
Can you see her?

Greg Proops

Shirley Jones

Annie V. Coates

Marty Ingels. Yes he is holding his crotch.

Errol Flynn's grandson and daughter: Sean Rio and Rory Flynn

Ben Mankiewicz poses for the crowd.

Norman Lloyd

I love this candid I got of Barry Pearl

Grease lightning! Michael Tucci, Barry Pearl, Jamie Donnelly and Kelly Ward

Christine Ebersole

Illeana Douglas

Here comes Peter Fonda!
There goes Peter Fonda!

Red Carpet Selfie
I hope you enjoyed my photos!

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