With the Xmas season fast approaching it’s somewhat appropriate that the old movie I caught today was set during the festive season. Released in 1978 and directed by Daryl Duke (“Tai-Pan”, “Payday”) it was a crime thriller called “The Silent Partner”.
In a busy Toronto shopping mall, bank chief cashier Miles Cullen (Elliott Gould – “The Lady Vanishes”, “The Long Goodbye”) is helping close up for the day, and trying in vain to get fellow bank worker Julie Carver (Susannah York – “Superman”, “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”) to go out with him for a drink.
Tidying up the deposit slips he finds one which has a stick-up note written on it. No one is interested in what he’s found but Miles has the note on his mind and becomes convinced that the bank will be held up very soon.
Whilst in the mall Miles notices that the signs for the Santa have the same distinctive handwriting as the note and decides that the man in the Santa suit must be planning the robbery.
Having dreams of starting a new life, preferably with the oblivious Julie, Miles spends that day putting most of the cash deposited at his till into a lunch box that he has secreted under the till. Later Santa comes to his till and, as he expected, Miles is passed a stick-up note demanding all the money.
When the till is almost empty Miles trips the alarm and Santa makes a run for it with the cash that he has managed to get, getting into a shootout with the bank’s security guard. Later, however, TV news reports state that the amount of cash stolen is nearly fifty thousand dollars more than he got away with.
Santa turns out to be a thief named Harry Reikle (Christopher Plummer – “The Man Who Would Be King”, “The Sound Of Music”) who soon deduces that Miles must have the bulk of the stolen cash and so begins a game of cat and mouse as Miles and Harry try to outsmart each other and end up with the cash.
The glamorous and mysterious Elaine (Céline Lomez – “Gina”, “Motel Of Fear”) shows up one day and attracts Miles’s attention, but there’s more to her than meets the eye…
A sub-plot finds bank worker Simonsen (John Candy – “Planes, Trains & Automobiles”, “Uncle Buck”) falling for and marrying co-worker Louise (Gail Dahms-Bonine – “Stone Cold Dead”, “Killing ‘Em Softly”) who, it must be said has a great series of fabulously un-PC t-shirt slogans such as “penalty for early withdrawals” and “bankers do it with interest”.
Despite being fairly unknown, this is actually a really decent thriller with a good cast. There is violence, some quite brutal as well as some nudity – it appears that women didn’t wear bras in 1978?! – but the main thing is that the story is imaginative and well told so you find yourself drawn into the whole thing.
Not a festive movie by any means, despite the presence of Santa, but one well worth watching…