The Disappearance (1977)


A high-priced hitman (Donald Sutherland, Ordinary People) slowly realizes that his latest assignment is somehow connected to the sudden and mysterious disappearance of his wife (Francine Racette, Four Flies on Grey Velvet). 

Reaction & Thoughts:

“One day I leave you, and then you’ll understand.”

The Disappearance is an intricate, hard-boiled neo-noir that will remind viewers of crime movies like Le Samourai (1967) and Get Carter (1971). Directed by Stuart Cooper (1985’s The Long Hot Summer) with surgical precision, this outstanding Canadian thriller tells a non-linear story that is soaked in existential angst.

The Disappearance is assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. Director Cooper and writer Paul Mayersberg (Croupier) assume that viewers are intelligent enough to put the pieces of the puzzle together without any help from them. We are never spoon-fed the answers, and some plot twists are ingenious and genuinely unexpected.

On top of that, Donald Sutherland is magnetic as the hitman going through a professional and personal crisis. We shouldn’t like him (he kills people in cold blood), but we do. This is due in great part to Sutherland, who somehow manages to portray the assassin as a troubled soul. After all, who doesn’t love a tormented anti-hero?

Sutherland is surrounded with a superb supporting cast. David Hemmings (Blow-up) plays Sutherland’s wife’s ex-husband. British actors John Hurt (The Elephant Man) and David Warner (Time After Time) play Sutherland’s “co-workers.” Sutherland’s real-life wife, Canadian actress Francine Racette, plays his wife in the movie.

Christopher Plummer’s (The Sound of Music) brief appearance (approx. 4 minutes) instantly became one of my favorite movie cameos. Plummer plays a wealthy businessman who harbors some dark secrets. The less I say about the character, the better. I’ll just say that Plummer makes the most of his limited screen time. Finally, Virginia McKenna (Born Free) is wonderful as Plummer’s pragmatic wife.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

The Disappearance is moody and stylish, and the performances are splendid. By the way, there are two versions of the movie. Producers got cold feet and re-edited the movie in chronological order. That version is 81-minute long. You want to watch the 91-minute cut, which preserves the jagged storyline. Color, 91 minutes, Rated R.

This is my contribution to The Charismatic Christopher Plummer Blogathon, hosted by Pale Writer and Realweedgiemidget Reviews.



27 responses to “The Disappearance (1977)

  1. Pingback: The Charismatic Christopher Plummer Blogathon has arrived! – Pale Writer·

  2. I hadn’t seen or even heard of this film when your post appeared in my reader, but your header image instantly brought the end of Get Carter to mind. I will have to seek this one out, I’m sure I’d appreciate it.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: BLOGATHONS… It’s Day 3 with the Charismatic Christopher Plummer Blogathon – Realweegiemidget Reviews Films TV Books and more·

  4. I haven’t seen this film, but it seems to be yet another instance of the “no small parts”-rule as far as Plummer is concerned – he always added value to anything he appeared in, no matter how small the role.

    The backstory of the producers re-editing it to make it more linear and conventional is sadly typical of the industry.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. You’ve definitely sold me on this one – and thanks for the Youtube link. I’d vaguely heard of this film but didn’t know anything about it. I watched Stuart Cooper’s Overlord recently and it’s good.

    Liked by 2 people

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