17 user 21 critic

The Chairman (1969)

M/PG | | Action, Drama, Thriller | July 1969 (UK)
During the Chinese Cultural Revolution, the US government sends a scientist to China to steal the formula for a new agricultural enzyme developed by the Chinese.


J. Lee Thompson


Jay Richard Kennedy (novel), Ben Maddow (screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Gregory Peck ... John Hathaway
Anne Heywood ... Kay Hanna
Arthur Hill ... Shelby
Alan Dobie Alan Dobie ... Benson
Conrad Yama Conrad Yama ... The Chairman
Zienia Merton ... Ting Ling
Ori Levy ... Shertov
Ric Young ... Yin (as Eric Young)
Burt Kwouk ... Chang Shou
Alan White Alan White ... Gardner
Keye Luke ... Professor Soong Li
Francesca Tu ... Soong Chu (as Francisca Tu)
Mai Ling Mai Ling ... Stewardess
Gordon Sterne Gordon Sterne ... U.S. Airforce Sergeant
Robert Lee ... Hotel Night Manager


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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Action | Drama | Thriller


M/PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Peter Yates was the first choice as director. See more »


As John Hathaway is making his escape from China, he's seen driving a British army scout car. See more »

User Reviews

Political/ spy / thriller movie about Mao's contemporary China with a splendid Gregory Peck
26 November 2008 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

An American scientific named Hathaway (Gregory Peck, after his acting in Stalking moon), Nobel prize winner , is enlisted by British Intelligence Service and assigned Mao's Red China to retrieve a formula about a revolutionary agricultural enzyme that eliminates starvation , diseases and multiply mass production . His chiefs (Arthur Hill , Alan Dobie) have implanted a microchip in his head for placing him in the solitary mission whose unique contact results to be Chang (Burt Kwouk , usual in Peter Sellers' Pink Panther). But he doesn't know that it can be exploded if the mission fails . Hathaway leaves his girlfriend Kay (Anne Heywood) and aboard airplane to Hong Kong . Later on , he's transported to north of China , nearly Russia , where he finds professor Soon Li (Keye Luke, the clever master in Kung-Fu series). There Hathaway interviews President Mao (Conrad Yama) .

This is a political/fiction/thriller , plenty of intrigue , suspense and action-packed in its final part . The film is an espionage story originally written by Ben Maddow with historic communist remarks during Mao Tse Tung period , as the'Great leap' and 'Red book of Mao'. In fact , there had propaganda campaigns mounted by Hong Kong communists claiming the film was anti Mao and anti Chinese consequently filming was transferred to Taiwán . Stars Gregory Peck who gives nice acting , though originally intended to be as a starring vehicle for Frank Sinatra . It packs colorful and evocative cinematography , shot in Pinewood studios of London , by John Wilcox and uncredited Ted Moore . Atmospheric production design , it was used the lab set left over from Fox's Fantastic voyage (1966). Moving and suspenseful musical score by the great master Jerry Goldsmith .The film is lavishly produced by Mort Abrahams and Arthur P. Jacobs who previously produced 'Planet of apes' . The motion picture was middlingly directed by J.L. Thomson (1914-2002) , during his splendor and successful time in the 60s , when he directed hits as 'Mackenna's gold' , 'Cape fear' , 'Taras Bulba' and 'Guns of Navarone' ; though in his last period he only directed Charles Bronson vehicles , such as : 'Death wish 4' , 'Kinjite' , 'St Ives' , 'Messenger of Death' , among others . The movie will appeal to Gregory Peck devotees.

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Release Date:

July 1969 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

The Chairman See more »

Filming Locations:

London, England, UK See more »


Box Office


$4,915,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


(FMC Library Print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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