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The Disappearance (1977)

Thriller about a contract killer whose wife has disappeared. When he is hired by an international organisation to carry out a "shy" or hit, he suspects they are connected with her disappearance.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Jay Mallory
...
Celandine
...
Edward
...
Atkinson
...
Burbank
...
Jefferies
...
Catherine
...
Deverell
...
Melanie
Dan Howard ...
James (as Duane Howard)
...
Young Man
Christina Greatrex ...
Secretary
Robert Korne ...
Dominic
...
Peter (as Michael Kramer)
Maureen Beck ...
Maid
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Storyline

Contract hit man Jay Mallory works for an unknown organization. He returns home to his downtown Montréal apartment one winter day to find that his wife, Celandine, is gone. Mallory initially thinks that Celandine has left on her own volition since theirs was a sometimes stormy, albeit passionate, relationship. However, words from Mallory's main point of contact at the organization, Burbank, indicate that Celandine's disappearance may be associated with Mallory's last hit. Shortly after their discussion, Burbank himself disappears. The organization assigns Mallory another job in Suffolk, England. Mallory has a feeling that there is something unusual about this job - he is given little initial information including not knowing who the target is - and that it too is associated with Celandine's disappearance. Despite feeling that he may be being set up, Mallory decides to take the job anyway to see how it plays out and if it leads him back to Celandine. Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A violent passion held them together. A passion for violence ripped them apart.

Genres:

Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

10 May 1981 (Canada)  »

Also Known As:

Adistaktos dolofonos, tryferos erastis  »

Box Office

Budget:

CAD 1,800,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Barbara Parkins was going to be in this project but was replaced before filming began. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Piano Concerto in G
By Maurice Ravel
by arrangement with United Music Publishers Limited.
Played by Leslie Pearson
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User Reviews

 
THE DISAPPEARANCE {Edited Version} (Stuart Cooper, 1977) **
9 February 2008 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

Ostensibly, it should be hard to understand why certain movies slip into obscurity despite being loaded with talent, but then you come across a case like this one and the possibility suddenly becomes not just plausible but inevitable. On paper, this Anglo-Canadian "existentialist" thriller certainly had potential: an impressive cast – Donald Sutherland, David Hemmings, John Hurt, David Warner, Christopher Plummer and Virginia McKenna – was mouthing the words of screenwriter Paul Mayersberg under the guidance of director Stuart Cooper (the man behind recent Criterion DVD release, OVERLORD [1975]) and being lit by the late great cinematographer (and frequent Stanley Kubrick collaborator) John Alcott; besides, the whole thing was being overseen by producer Hemmings himself. So, where did the film go wrong?

Well, for starters, the central mystery itself is not very interesting: the neglected wife of brooding Donald Sutherland – the No. 1 hit-man for an enigmatic espionage organization – is forever threatening to leave him and does exactly that at the very start of the film; unfortunately, while Sutherland is very good in his role and literally the best thing in it, the actress playing his wife (Francine Racette) is as stiff and unappealing as one of her husband's handiwork. This fact renders the knowledge that Racette is none other than Sutherland's own wife in real life as well almost impossible to believe, since this is hardly borne by their interaction here – least of all during a fragmentary sex scene that ludicrously apes Nicolas Roeg's DON'T LOOK NOW (1973) which, of course, also starred Sutherland! Actually, I had seen Racette act previously in two notable films – Dario Argento's FOUR FLIES ON GREY VELVET (1971) and Joseph Losey's MR. KLEIN (1976) – but I can't really say if her efforts were any better there. For the record, THE DISAPPEARANCE proved to be Racette's penultimate film before retiring to raise her three children with Sutherland. Thankfully, although most of them are practically extended cameos, the supporting cast – of whom, I thought, John Hurt comes off best – does keep one watching…but, again, the utterly predictable double surprise ending closes the film with a whimper instead of a bang.

Equally to blame for the film's ultimate failure is Stuart Cooper whose direction is pretentious to a fault and, unsurprisingly, he too faded exclusively into TV-movie limbo soon after; for what it's worth, many years ago I did get to watch two of his TV ventures – A.D. (1985) and THE FORTUNATE PILGRIM (1988) – both of which were large-scale productions. Having said that, screenwriter Mayersberg is himself well-known for his non-linear scripts but the would-be audacious time-jumping techniques abused here merely attempt to imbue an obscure and thin plot with some elusive sense of significance; incidentally, even if the 88-minute version I watched was 12 minutes short of the original, I doubt that the missing footage would made things any clearer! Unfortunately for the viewer, Stuart Cooper is no visual stylist like Nicolas Roeg, much less a master film-maker in the league of Alain Resnais! Besides, given the structure and themes of the film, at times I couldn't help but unfavorably compare it to John Boorman's vastly superior POINT BLANK (1967)...


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