The MacKintosh Man (1973)

PG | 98, 100 or 105 mins | Adventure | August 1973

Director:

John Huston

Writer:

Walter Hill

Producer:

John Foreman

Cinematographer:

Oswald Morris

Editor:

Russell Lloyd

Production Designer:

Terry Marsh

Production Company:

Newman-Foreman Co., Inc.
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HISTORY

The film's working title was The Freedom Trap , which was also the title of the Desmond Bagley novel on which it was based. Although reviews, news items and most modern sources list the film as The Mackintosh Man , the film's title card lists it as The MacKintosh Man . As noted in the end credits, the picture was shot at Pinewood Studios in London, England and on location in Ireland and Malta. The small, distinctive yellow box used to send the stolen diamonds through the mail was commonly used for decades by the Kodak company as a conveyance to return developed photographic slides to customers. In the film, as in the novel, the audience is unaware until after "Joseph Reardon" telephones “Mrs. Smith” from Ireland that the theft of the diamonds was merely a set-up to install him in prison to break up "The Scarperers."
       In Bagley's novel, Reardon is an Australian who had lived in South Africa for many years and assumed a South African accent as a deep cover agent for the British government. However, in the film, Reardon is, apparently, an American who assumes an Australian identity and accent. Newman speaks in an Australian accent for some scenes, but his normal voice in others. Unlike the novel, the film gives no back story for Reardon. In the novel, "Sir George Wheeler” was an Albanian-born, naturalized British citizen who secretly worked for Albania and its ally, Red China. There is also a strong subplot involving Wheeler's intention to turn “Ronald Slade” over, against his will, to the Red Chinese. In the film, Wheeler was ... More Less

The film's working title was The Freedom Trap , which was also the title of the Desmond Bagley novel on which it was based. Although reviews, news items and most modern sources list the film as The Mackintosh Man , the film's title card lists it as The MacKintosh Man . As noted in the end credits, the picture was shot at Pinewood Studios in London, England and on location in Ireland and Malta. The small, distinctive yellow box used to send the stolen diamonds through the mail was commonly used for decades by the Kodak company as a conveyance to return developed photographic slides to customers. In the film, as in the novel, the audience is unaware until after "Joseph Reardon" telephones “Mrs. Smith” from Ireland that the theft of the diamonds was merely a set-up to install him in prison to break up "The Scarperers."
       In Bagley's novel, Reardon is an Australian who had lived in South Africa for many years and assumed a South African accent as a deep cover agent for the British government. However, in the film, Reardon is, apparently, an American who assumes an Australian identity and accent. Newman speaks in an Australian accent for some scenes, but his normal voice in others. Unlike the novel, the film gives no back story for Reardon. In the novel, "Sir George Wheeler” was an Albanian-born, naturalized British citizen who secretly worked for Albania and its ally, Red China. There is also a strong subplot involving Wheeler's intention to turn “Ronald Slade” over, against his will, to the Red Chinese. In the film, Wheeler was born British, works for the Russians and is an ally of Slade.
       While the first half of the film follows Bagley's novel relatively closely, the second half has some distinct changes from the book. At the end of the novel, there is the suggestion that Reardon and Mrs. Smith, who was reared in Ireland in the novel but France in the movie, may have a future together. In the novel, the deaths of Wheeler and Slade occur when Wheeler's yacht blows up, rather than their being shot by Mrs. Smith.
       According to modern sources, the film's ending was the last scene written and shot, leading to what some critics felt reflected an undeveloped ambivalent attitude on Reardon's part. Screenwriter Walter Hill was quoted in a modern source as saying, "I wrote about sixty percent of the first half, after that there was nothing there that was mine." Modern sources have indicated that director John Huston and his longtime assistant, Gladys Hill, wrote much of the latter half of the film.
       According to a 13 Dec 1971 DV news item, Warner Bros. executive vice-president John Calley optioned the novel shortly before its publication. Modern sources add that Newman, who contractually owed another film to Warner Bros., brought his producing partner, John Foreman, and Huston onto the project just after the three had collaborated on The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972, see above). According to an item in the "VIPS" column in HR on 23 Aug 1972, Candice Bergen originally had been cast opposite Newman. The item quoted Huston as saying "This film may go under the auspices of The Eady Plan to be subsidized by the British government, so we may hire an English actress instead..." The Eady Plan, which was in operation from the early 1960s through the mid-1980s, encouraged native filmmaking by subsidizing motion pictures made in Britain. The plan required that most of the artists, both in front of and behind the camera, be British. This is the only mention of The Eady Plan in connection with The MacKintosh Man and no information about possible British actresses considered for the role of Mrs. Smith has been located.
       Many critics wrote that the film, with its Cold War-era plot was too old-fashioned, while several critics pointed out the woodenness of Dominique Sanda's performance and the overuse of Maurice Jarre's score. The MacKintosh Man marked the American film debut of the French-born Sanda, who had come to international attention for her roles in The Garden of the Finzi-Continis (1970) and The Conformist (1970). Although Sanda has continued to act in international productions, she has made few appearances in American films since The MacKintosh Man . More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
6 Aug 1973
p. 4614.
Daily Variety
13 Dec 1971.
---
Daily Variety
23 Jul 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Oct 1972.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 1972
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 1972
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Jul 1973
p. 3, 7.
Los Angeles Herald Examiner
1 Aug 1973.
---
Los Angeles Times
1 Aug 1973
Section IV, p. 14.
Motion Picture Herald
8 Aug 1973
pp. 17-18.
New Republic
1 Sep 1973.
---
New York Times
26 Jul 1973
p. 44.
New York Times
29 Jul 1973
Section II, p. 1.
New Yorker
6 Aug 1973.
---
Newsweek
13 Aug 1973.
---
Rolling Stone
13 Sep 1973.
---
Rolling Stone
11 Oct 1973.
---
Time
27 Aug 1973.
---
Variety
1 Aug 1973
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A John Huston Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2d unit dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Photog equipment
Cam op
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Constr mgr
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairdressing
PRODUCTION MISC
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Asst to Mr. Huston
Asst to prod
Prod secy
Motorcycles in escape seq furnished by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Freedom Trap by Desmond Bagley (London, 1971).
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
The Freedom Trap
Release Date:
August 1973
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 25 July 1973
Los Angeles opening: 1 August 1973
Production Date:
mid October--late December 1972 at Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, England and in Ireland and Malta
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros. Productions, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
25 July 1973
Copyright Number:
LP42953
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Lenses/Prints
processed by Rank Laboratories Ltd.
Duration(in mins):
98, 100 or 105
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
Ireland, United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In London, Joseph Reardon arrives at a nondescript office occupied by Angus MacKintosh who, with his secretary, Mrs. Smith, explains Reardon's assignment: to steal a package of diamonds being sent through the mail in a yellow Kodak slide box. They explain that a large amount of money has been deposited into a Swiss bank account for Reardon, and all preparations have been made for him to steal the package from a postman. The next day, Reardon waits until he receives a call from Mrs. Smith informing him that the package is being delivered. Reardon then grabs the box from the postman and knocks him out. Vanishing into the crowded street, Reardon enters the Underground, passes the package off to Mrs. Smith, then returns to his hotel. A short time later, two policemen, Det. Sgt. Jervis and his senior officer, Brunskill, arrive at his room, question him about the theft, then quickly arrest him. Although the diamonds have not been found, an anonymous telephone tip, plus his identification by the postman, lead to Reardon's conviction and sentence of twenty years in prison. Reardon, who has the admiration of fellow convicts for refusing to divulge the whereabouts of the diamonds, begins to talk about escaping. When fellow inmate Soames-Trevelyan suggests that a secret group called the Scarperers can make arrangements from the outside if he has enough money, Reardon eagerly agrees. After transferring money to the Scarperers from his Swiss bank, Reardon cools his heels until hearing that the escape will take place the following Saturday and that convicted traitor Ronald Slade, formerly a highly placed Russian spy, will be joining him. ... +


In London, Joseph Reardon arrives at a nondescript office occupied by Angus MacKintosh who, with his secretary, Mrs. Smith, explains Reardon's assignment: to steal a package of diamonds being sent through the mail in a yellow Kodak slide box. They explain that a large amount of money has been deposited into a Swiss bank account for Reardon, and all preparations have been made for him to steal the package from a postman. The next day, Reardon waits until he receives a call from Mrs. Smith informing him that the package is being delivered. Reardon then grabs the box from the postman and knocks him out. Vanishing into the crowded street, Reardon enters the Underground, passes the package off to Mrs. Smith, then returns to his hotel. A short time later, two policemen, Det. Sgt. Jervis and his senior officer, Brunskill, arrive at his room, question him about the theft, then quickly arrest him. Although the diamonds have not been found, an anonymous telephone tip, plus his identification by the postman, lead to Reardon's conviction and sentence of twenty years in prison. Reardon, who has the admiration of fellow convicts for refusing to divulge the whereabouts of the diamonds, begins to talk about escaping. When fellow inmate Soames-Trevelyan suggests that a secret group called the Scarperers can make arrangements from the outside if he has enough money, Reardon eagerly agrees. After transferring money to the Scarperers from his Swiss bank, Reardon cools his heels until hearing that the escape will take place the following Saturday and that convicted traitor Ronald Slade, formerly a highly placed Russian spy, will be joining him. At the appointed time, under cover of a smoke bomb and a fistfight started by Soames-Trevelyan, Slade and Reardon make their escape by means of a large crane that swoops them up from the prison yard. They are immediately transferred to motorcycles, which, in turn are driven up a ramp into a large truck. After being drugged by a woman named Gerda, both Slade and Reardon wake up in what appears to be a luxurious hotel suite with bars on the windows and no indication of its location. Guarded by Gerda and a large mute named Taafe, the men are treated as guests for a short time by the gentlemanly Brown, who heads the group and has Reardon sign a check for the rest of the Scarperers' payment. Meanwhile, in the House of Commons, Sir George Wheeler rails against the laxness of the British penal system that led to the escapes of Slade and Reardon. After the speech, MacKintosh, who is an old friend, approaches Wheeler and privately tells him that he is breaching his own security to let him know that he has penetrated the organization responsible for the escape and that his inside man, the only other person who knows about the plan, will be back within a week. A short time later, Slade is escorted out of the suite, after which an angry Brown asks "Who are you, Mr. Reardon?" as his dog and Taafe begin to attack Reardon. Back in England, MacKintosh is badly injured in a hit-and-run accident. The next morning, Reardon uses his wits to overpower Brown and Taafe, set his mattress on fire and make his escape as the large house in which he had been held becomes engulfed in flames. Running through the countryside, Reardon soon discovers that he is in Ireland and, using money rifled from Brown's pocket, boards a country bus, finally arriving at a small seaside town. There he calls Mrs. Smith and learns that MacKintosh is in a coma. She then arranges to fly to a nearby airstrip to meet Reardon. While he is waiting, Reardon enters O'Donovan's pub and hears the locals talking about the fire and extolling the virtues of Brown, who has done much for the town. That same afternoon, a large yacht, the Artina , sails into the harbor and its owner, Wheeler, exchanges pleasantries with some of the men on the dock, amiably offering to pay for drinks for everyone in the pub. One of the locals, who dislikes Wheeler, offers to help Reardon when he says that he needs to hire a car. When Reardon meets Mrs. Smith at the airstrip, he bitterly accuses either her or MacKintosh of betraying him, but she insists that neither informed Brown of his deception. She also reveals that MacKintosh is her father and that he wrote an exonerating letter that is to be delivered to the Prime Minister in the case of his death. When she adds that everything began to go wrong after MacKintosh went to see Wheeler the previous afternoon, Reardon begins to suspect that Wheeler is using his yacht to hide Slade. When they learn that the Artina is sailing to Gibraltar, then Malta, Reardon deduces that Wheeler also is a Russian spy and that Slade will be dropped off in Malta, where a Russia ship will pick him up. As they drive along the coast, a car starts to chase them until Reardon's evasive driving forces the car over a cliff and into the sea. A few days later, after Mrs. Smith and Reardon have been relaxing together in a Maltese hotel, the Artina approaches the harbor. At a lavish reception given by Wheeler on the dock that afternoon, Mrs. Smith enters with two invited guests. She secretly searches the yacht and finds Slade, pretending that she knocked on the wrong door, then goes back to the party where she is recognized by some family friends. Overhearing them, Wheeler approaches her, says how sorry he was to hear about her father's accident and invites her to see his yacht. Moments after she has a glass of champagne, she begins to feel the effects of being drugged. Meanwhile, at the local police station, Reardon identifies himself as an incognito British Intelligence officer and tries to tell the police commissioner that Wheeler is harboring Slade. A short time later, Reardon rides to the yacht with the commissioner and some of his men. Wheeler congratulates the deferential commissioner on apprehending the famous jewel thief Reardon and cordially offers to allow his men to search the yacht. After Wheeler coolly answers Reardon's query about Mrs. Smith by saying that she attended his party but left, Reardon jumps into the water, surfacing on the other side of the yacht, out of view. The Maltese police then race away as Reardon quietly pulls himself through an open port hole of the yacht. Reardon draws a gun on Cox, the officer on duty, and demands that he reveal where Mrs. Smith is. Cox and Reardon then drive to a building in town, but when they open the door, Slade and Wheeler are waiting inside and are holding Mrs. Smith at gunpoint. After Cox leaves, Wheeler asks Reardon to confirm what Mrs. Smith had told him about MacKintosh's letter. After Reardon assures him that a well-respected law firm will deliver the letter to the Prime Minister, Wheeler reveals that MacKintosh died that afternoon. Instead of being angry, Wheeler affably retorts that he now no longer has to "play the pompous ass" and can say and do what he believes. Because the three men are in a stand off, Slade suggests that they all lay down their arms and walk away to live out their respective lives in peace. Mrs. Smith screams that they are traitors, but Reardon agrees to the plan and all three lay down their arms. As Wheeler and Slade walk toward the door, Reardon says "good luck," before Mrs. Smith surreptitiously grabs two guns and shoots both Wheeler and Slade to death. She then wipes down the guns and places them in the men's hands, matter-of-factly saying that Wheeler died as Slade was trying to escape. After accusingly stating that Reardon was going to let them get away, she walks out into the night as Reardon watches her leave. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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