Excellent political thriller
Claire Wiener | Tokyo | 12/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"To start with, since the previous reviewer asked - the cast includes:
Rod Taylor as Scobie Malone
Christopher Plummer as Sir James Quentin
Lilli Palmer as Lady Sheila Quentin
Camilla Sparv as Lisa Pretorius
Daliah Lavi as Maria Cholon
Clive Revill as Joseph
And now on to the movie itself - a political thriller set in London in the 1960s, when tensions between East and West were at a dangerous high. The plot revolves around Sir James Quentin, the Australian high commissioner to London, played with elegance and style by Christopher Plummer, who is the chairman of an international conference that attempts to bridge political divides through trade. "Peace through plenty" is how one of the conference participants puts it. But although Sir Quentin is quite successful in his negotiations, not all is well. Someone close to him is leaking confidential information, trying to discredit the conference. Shadowy assasins have an eye on the commissioner and the politics around the conference are a tangled web.
On top of that, in the middle of the conference sergeant detective Scobie Malone (a great tough-but-good-guy portrait by Rod Taylor) flies in from Australia, sent by Quentin's political rival, the premier of New South Wales, to arrest him for the alleged murder of his former wife. But did he do it? Malone himself and his boss at the CID don't think so. The inquiry was made by the politically motivated premier's people and not by the CID. However, a mandate of arrest was issued and Malone is supposed to bring the commissioner back to Australia. Quentin asks for more time to finish the conference - a few days that see two assasination attempts, Malone becoming Quentin's private security agent, and endless deception and intrigue, spearheaded by the charming and dangerous Maria Cholon, an underworld queen who has an interest in seeing Quentin dead and the conference aborted. I won't tell you how it all ends because thrillers you know the ending of beforehand aren't that much fun ;).
Although the tone of the movie is mostly serious, there are enough moments of levity provided by the interactions between true-blue Australian Malone and Sir Quentin's stuffy British butler Joseph, delightfully played by Clive Revill. Cast performances are excellent across the board, including Lilli Palmer as Sir Quentin's sensitive, worried wife (Lilli Palmer and Christopher Plummer had played another ill-fated couple before: she had played Jocasta to his Oedipus in "Oedipus King"). Camilla Sparv plays Sir Quentin's smart, sharp and protective secretary with just the right combination of professionalism and feistiness. Daliah Lavi is suitably langurous, seductive and revengeful as the "evil beauty", and Burt Kwouk of "Pink Panther" series fame makes an appearance as her lieutenant.
As for the DVD quality, the video is crisp and beautifully toned, much improved over the VHS version which is out of print now (under the name "Nobody Runs Forever"). The sound is Dolby mono but of good quality.
Based on the novel eponymous novel by Jon Cleary. Recommended!"
Poor Main Title Audio Presentation from M-G-M..otherwise, FI
shureman | Oakville, On Canada | 10/30/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"This film gets 3 stars as I enjoyed this classy, slow-paced thriller and the good cast. Mostly, though, my biggest pleasure was Georges Delerue's melancholy music score, particularly at the end and in the main title credits. Unfortunately this print has parts of the title music GARBLED -- UNFORGIVEABLE since this score was never released commercially and cannot be savoured anywhere except on this DVD. Thumbs down to M-G-M for their careless audio presentation (fortunately I have a home-made DVD from an Australian friend with PRISTINE audio on the main title; couldn't M-G-M get a print from there??)"
Better Than Average Political Thriller, With Murder Added
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 03/08/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is a political thriller that adds an old murder to the mix to create a movie that's entertaining but not quite as good as I'd hoped for. Aussie cop Scobie Malone (Rod Taylor) is sent to London to arrest and bring back for trial the Australian High Commissioner Sir James Quentin (Christopher Plummer), who is in the midst of crucial negotiations with some third world countries. Malone's boss believes there is now enough evidence against Sir James to pin on him the murder of his first wife which happened several years ago. When Malone arrives in London, however, he finds Sir James to be the target of assassins who are determined to see the negotiations fail. At the same time, he comes to believe that it's possible Sir James wasn't the murderer after all. Sir James pleads for time to complete the negotiations and Malone agrees, but then finds himself in the position of having to protect Sir James from the assassins.
Rod Taylor does a fine job playing Malone, a beefy, straightforward cop. Malone also is smarter than many people at first expect him to be. Christopher Plummer turns in another polished performance as the high commissioner, a man dedicated to the talks, in love with his second wife and with enough steel in him that you're not sure whether he is a killer or not. Lili Palmer, one of my favorite actors, as Lady Quentin is beautiful and fragile, and may have secrets of her own.
The murder story is really background to the thriller story, but I wish it had been more heavily emphasized. It would have made for a much more complex film. On balance, though, the movie is worth watching. The DVD transfer is a little soft and the audio should have been tweaked up. That, combined with the Australian accents, at times requires careful listening.
If you like reading mysteries, I'd recommend the book by Jon Cleary that this film was made from. Its original title was Nobody Runs Forever, but was reissued as The High Commissioner when the movie came out. Malone appears in a number of Cleary's books. One I like a lot is Helga's Web."
The High Commissioner
Montgomery Michaels | Melbourne, Vic, AUS | 09/13/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rod Taylor is excellent as the Aussie detective sent to London to arrest an Australian political figure (Christopher Plummer) wanted for murder. Intense, intriguing and set in swinging 60s London, the plot moves along at a great pace with unexpected twists and turns. The Wimbledon Tennis Championships backdrop adds an element of extra interest. Great 60s suspense."