Just how über ’70s is Daryl Duke’s The Silent Partner?
Elliot Gould (check) stars as Miles, a milquetoast bank teller and
budding lothario (check) who inadvertently provokes the murderous rage
of an androgynous (check) psychopath (check), played by a turtlenecked
Christopher Plummer (double check). Decapitation, double-crosses, boobs,
blow—and that’s just in the first 30 minutes! The Silent Partner isn’t emblematic of the 1970s, it is
the 1970s. So it’s only fitting that the film, a sleeper hit in the
States and a critical darling in Canada, sweeps across a range of tones,
from silly and sexy to gritty and somber. As he did in Robert Altman’s MASH and The Long Goodbye,
Gould performs a kind of double miracle: As the shambling nebbish of
the first act and the cunning Don Juan of the second, he somehow nails
both roles without breaking a sweat. Plummer, on the other hand, rants and rages like he’s
auditioning for a community theater production of Titus Andronicus
(did I mention the turtlenecks?). Toss in a stuttering bebop score by
jazz great Oscar Peterson and you have all the ingredients for a batshit
’70s cinematic stew.