Nov 16, 2006

DVD Review: The Chairman

The Chairman
Fox Home Entertainment

1969's The Chairman, directed by J. Lee Thompson, is expectedly, a little dated. What passes for high tech gizmos is downright laughable in this age of Bondish excess. Still it never set out to be the Belle of the Ball, just a decent thriller. Which it is.

The premise is that China, Maos' China, has developed an enzyme that enables any crop to grow in any climate. Our Government is interested enough to have climbed into bed with Russia, a shocking notion at the time, as whoever feeds the third world pretty much owns it. They want Prof. Hathaway (Gregory Peck) to go to China, also mostly unheard of at the time, and beg, borrow or steal it from an old friend and mentor played by Keye Luke. The high-tech whiz-bang is a one way satellite mic implanted in his head. We later find out it is also a bomb in case things go very wrong. The General (Aurther Hill) does not burden him with the last part of this information.

With two titans like Peck and Hill doing the heavy lifting, I think this appears to be a better film than it is, though I must admit I enjoyed it. The ending is as tense as you could ask for. If sixties spy thrillers ring your chimes, you could do worse and at last there are Special Features I can enthusiastically endorse. The voice over narration by a film historian and a critic, whose names escape me because...I don't care, do a credible job and occasionally drop in an interesting nugget to the point that I listened to seventy or eighty percent of it. The jewel in the crown though, is the inclusion of the European versions of the self conscious sexy bits (this was the sixties).

There is a brief nude scene by an actress named Zienia Merton (damn she's cute) trying to seduce the Prof. in his hotel room. Very brief. Not so much for our brothers on the Continent, it's about five times as long and I am flat in love again. I would not purchase the DVD on the strength of this alone, but I'd be tempted.

Lee Crawford

No comments: