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John M. Stahl
An American scientist is sent to Red China to steal the formula for a newly developed agricultural enzyme. What he is not told by his bosses is that a micro-sized bomb has been planted in his brain so that should the mission ever look likely to fail, he can be eliminated at the push of a button! Written by
Jonathon Dabell <J.D.@pixie.ntu.ac.uk>
The Chairman (aka The Most Dangerous Man in the World) starts off with an amazing photo montage title sequence by Paul Brown Constable dealing with overpopulation and the rise of the Red Guard in Mao's China accompanied by the increasingly strident tones of Jerry Goldsmith's superb score that sets the scene for a much better film than you get. Any hope of a serious political thriller is quickly lost as soon as Arthur Hill's cycloptic general turns up and it turns out the bug implanted in Gregory Peck's skull is also a bomb. What you get instead is a fairly glossy, fashionably cynical shot-on-location thriller that briefly touches on humanistic issues in a couple of scenes before getting back to the spy stuff that's neither James Bond nor John Le Carre but pure Hollywood hokum in the 60s mould. Ironically, although the producers harboured the notion of filming in China in a monumental fit of delusion, it was the Hong Kong and Taiwanese authorities that really objected to the subject matter (as either too defamatory or deferential to Mao as the prevailing mood would have it). J. Lee Thompson's direction is occasionally visually ambitious, but seems to have suffered in the editing, with several very obvious edits to alternate takes interrupting what were clearly intended as continuous camera moves. It's a shame that Fox's Region 1 DVD is the US version, relegating the racier scenes to the extra features - who'd have thought there'd ever be a movie with Gregory Peck having his trousers undone by a naked woman on her knees?
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