This is the inaugural entry in what will be a weekly series on the Drafthouse Films blog - sharing with you the films we love from all eras across the globe to curate and keep your shelves and queues fully stacked with interesting cinematic discoveries.
It would be silly, especially for anybody that knows me, to commence this series without mentioning something Canadian and more specifically a 'Canadian tax shelter' film. For the last few years, I have dedicated myself to devouring this very under-appreciated and wholly bizarre movement in North American cinema. In an attempt to create a new industry for its nation, the Canadian government in the 70s issued full tax credits to anybody or any company who privately financed film productions. At the end of a fiscal year, it was normal for say, a dentist to fully finance the work of a seemingly random ready-and-willing creative type with a half-finished script. It didn't matter if the film was profitable or even released at all - just as long as it 'happend' in order for the financier to receive millions back from the Canadian government. The result was a massive flux of artfully unusual films seemingly made for no one, most of which were completely divorced from the commercial reality of the film distribution arena. From within emerged such amazing singular gems of strangeness such as David Cronenberg's Videodrome, the apex of this financing process, along with a wealth of rarely seen or shelved works. And the best of these are chronicled on the terrific website Canuxploitation.com.
This brings me to the The Silent Partner which is perhaps the easiest entry into this rabbit hole forgotten English language cinema. It is one of the few tax shelter films that was successful critically and financially upon its release. Starring Elliott Gould, Samantha York and Christopher Plummer (who shows up in drag!), The Silent Partner is a fast paced cat-and-mouse thriller with characteristic 'tax shelter' delirious derailments and unforeseen twists. Gould plays against type as a timid bank teller who preempts a gun carrying, bank-robbing Santa Claus (Plummer) and decides to cheat his company and the crook out of thousands of Canadian dollars. Thus, the film explodes into a dangerous chess game of wit between the two as they attempt to out-smart one another and the viewer with Gould protecting his stolen lot from the murderous thief. Tightly directed by Daryl Duke (Payday) and interestingly scripted by Curtis Hansen (L.A. Confidential), this film is not to be missed! And for the love of god ignore the egregiously inept DVD cover art courtesy of Lions Gate. Blehhhhh.