When a business competitor assassinates her father when the father refuses to sell his firm, young woman takes over her father's paper company and with the help of her gangster boyfriend learns how to fight back against competitors.

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Cast

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John Grey
Judith Gault ...
Barbara
Michael Margotta ...
Paul Howard
Iréna Mayeska ...
Aunt Margot
Hollis McLaren ...
Heather Grey
Larry Perkins ...
Philip Rudd (as Lee Broker)
Robert A. Silverman ...
Hayes (as Robert Silverman)
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When a business competitor assassinates her father when the father refuses to sell his firm, young woman takes over her father's paper company and with the help of her gangster boyfriend learns how to fight back against competitors.

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independent film | See All (1) »

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29 October 1976 (Canada)  »

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CAD 425,000 (estimated)
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1.85 : 1
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An uneven, but intriguing bit of mid-70's Nationalist Canadiana
19 February 2006 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

"Partners" was the commercial feature debut of well known NFB director Don Owen (best known for "Nobody Waved Goodbye" the National Film Board's first major dramatic feature). It is an uneven, but intriguing Robert-Altmanesque affair that veers from young romance to musical to historical commentary to cloak-and-dagger thriller to corporate, boardroom drama- all in the span of 90 minutes!

The story focuses on Paul (Michael Margotta) a street-smart NY hustler, hired for a bit of corporate espionage, stealing secrets from Canadian Pulp & Paper, to aid his American bosses in a takeover bid. In doing so, he gets romantically entwined with Heather (Holis McLaren) the daughter of CP&P's president John Grey (Denholm Elliot). Intrigued and enamored by each other, Heather and Paul engage in a number of counter-cultural activities peripheral to the main plot. It's all fun & games, until the American backers begin pressuring Paul to provide further info. Ultimately, he is forced to choose between sides.

In some ways, the film is a Canadian version of "Brideshead Visited": just as Sebastian Flyte was seduced by the Marchmaines connection with Catholic history, so to do we see an American boy turning his back on his home country through an emotional link with Canuck history. Yet, in spite of its obvious critiques on US imperialism, the film never becomes anti-American. The yanks are divided into the standard melodramatic categories of good and bad: the good ones want to learn from their northern neighbors and establish good relations, while the bad ones want to undermine and own the Great White North.

Historical concerns aside, the film's failure to focus on one specific style leaves it a bit scatter shot. One moment Paul and Heather are involved in some blatant, hot sex (Last Tango in Toronto?), next they're stealing marijuana from a NY hotel out of blaxploitation feature, and then they're in a recording studio listening to singer Murray McLauchlan record a full cut! Other times the film's momentum is stopped just so one of its characters can deliver a soliloquy or history lesson. And the "thriller" aspects don't add up to much either. Only Paul's attempt to infiltrate an American henchman's hotel room or the climax where John Grey is caught in a bungled assassination attempt is any real suspense generated.

Still, the movie has an engaging unpredictability and charm to it that make it fun to watch, especially for one nostalgic for 1976 Canadiana. Margotta is rather uncharismatic, but it's Mclaren (better remembered as Liza from "Outrageous") who steals the show as a WASP princess looking for an out to her secluded lifestyle. Denholm Elliot provides the most fun as the slightly eccentric British businessman-father figure, a sort of benign Conrad Black figure that is slowly losing the battle to the modern world. Keep an open mind, and you'll find something of interest.


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