The Silent Partner (1978)

(In theaters, June 2008) Both good enough to be entertaining and bad enough to be amusing, this drama benefits from a good script by Curtis Hanson (who would later achieve notoriety with L.A. Confidential), capable actors, and a very Torontonian setting to overcome thirty years of bad editing, ridiculous replies and stiff direction. This low-budget film has definitely aged, but more in individual moments rather than overall story: The plot (about a bank clerk who matches wits with a robber) still works wonderfully well today, as the protagonist (Elliott Gould) proves both resourceful and sympathetic in a cornered-sad-dog fashion. A slick-faced scenery-chewing Christopher Plummer plays the devilishly evil antagonist, while John Candy makes an appearance as another bank employee. People familiar with Toronto will get plenty of small thrills as the film is largely set in the Eaton center, features shots of City Hall and the CN Tower, and even has its characters talking while driving a convertible down the Gardiner Expressway. The film isn’t so successful in its shot construction, reflecting the stiff pre-digital low-budget conventions. But once that’s past (and once given the indulgence to laugh over some unexpectedly terrible moments), The Silent Partner remains an effective little crime drama, with unexpected twists, a better-than-average duel between protagonist and antagonist, and a uniquely Canadian flavor.

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