Kings and Desperate Men

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Kings and Desperate Men
Kings and Desperate Men.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlexis Kanner
Produced byAlexis Kanner
Written byEdmund Ward
Alexis Kanner
StarringPatrick McGoohan
Alexis Kanner
Margaret Trudeau
Andrea Marcovicci
Robin Spry
Budd Knapp
Jean-Pierre Brown
Music byPierre F. Brault
Michel Robidoux
CinematographyAlexis Kanner
Paul Van der Linden
Edited byAlexis Kanner
Distributed byMagnum Entertainment
Release date
  • 1981 (1981) (Canada)
  • 1983 (1983) (U.S.)
  • 1984 (1984) (UK)
Running time
118 minutes
Budget1.2 million

Kings and Desperate Men is a 1981 Canadian hostage drama film directed, co-written and produced by Alexis Kanner. The film stars Patrick McGoohan as radio talk show host John Kingsley, Margaret Trudeau as his wife Elizabeth, and Kanner with Andrea Marcovicci as terrorists. The story is set within one day during Christmas Eve. The movie was made on a budget of 1.2 million and was filmed in Montreal.[1]

Film director Kanner later took legal action against the film producers of Die Hard in the late 1980s, alleging the producers stole the idea for Die Hard from his film Kings and Desperate Men.[2] Kanner lost his case.

Trudeau was the wife of Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who was in office at the time of both the film's production and its eventual release.


On Christmas Eve, a radio talk show host, his wealthy wife, their mentally challenged son and a federal judge are taken hostage by a group of terrorists. The group demand a new trial on the air for a convicted comrade of theirs whom the group believes was wrongly convicted of manslaughter. The radio listeners are asked by the terrorists to act as the jury and to telephone in their verdicts to the radio station.


  • Patrick McGoohan as John Kingsley
  • Alexis Kanner as Lucas Miller
  • Margaret Trudeau as Elizabeth Kingsley
  • Budd Knapp as Judge Stephen McManus
  • Andrea Marcovicci as Barbara
  • Frank Moore as Pete Herrera
  • Robin Spry as Harry Gibson
  • Jean-Pierre Brown as Christopher Kingsley
  • Kate Nash as Mrs. McPhearson
  • Neil Vipond as Henry Sutton
  • Dave Patrick as Grant Gillespie
  • Kevin Fenlon as Laz
  • August Schellenberg as Stanley Aldini
  • Frederic Smith as Bolton
  • Peter MacNeill as George
  • Marcel Beaulieu as a member of the Special Squad
  • Andre Koudsey as a member of the Special Squad
  • Bob Lepage as a member of the Special Squad
  • Normand Roy as a member of the Special Squad
  • Andrew Theodoses as a member of the Special Squad


Kings and Desperate Men was shot on location in Montreal, Canada during December 1977. Film director Kanner apparently spent two years editing the film. The movie was eventually released in Canada on August 22, 1981 at the Montreal World Film Festival.[3] It was released in the USA on November 13, 1983[4] at the Chicago International Film Festival. It also premiered in the UK at the London Film Festival in 1984. Kings and Desperate Men was rated PG-13 in the United States.[5] The movie was later issued on VHS in 1989.


  1. ^ Cochrane, Felicity (1978). Margaret Trudeau: The Prime Minister's runaway wife (1 ed.). Signet Books. p. 170. ISBN 0-451-08210-9.
  2. ^ Horowitz, Joy (1992-03-15). "New York Times: Hollywood Law: Whose idea is it anyway?". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-02-02.
  3. ^ Trudeau, Margaret (1982). Consequences (Second ed.). Seal Books. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-7704-1850-2.
  4. ^ Maltin, Leonard (1997). Leonard Maltin's 1998 Movie and Video Guide. Signet Books. p. 718. ISBN 0-451-19288-5.
  5. ^ "Kings And Desperate Men; A Hostage Incident (1989)". Classification & Rating Administration (CARA). Retrieved 25 January 2018.

John Donne. Holy Sonnet 10

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