Puppet on a Chain (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Puppet on a Chain
Puppet on a Chain poster.jpg
Directed by Geoffrey Reeve
Don Sharp (boat sequence)
Produced by Kurt Unger
Written by Alistair MacLean (novel & screenplay)
Paul Wheeler (additional material)
Don Sharp (additional material)
Starring Sven-Bertil Taube, Barbara Parkins, Alexander Knox
Music by Piero Piccioni
Cinematography Jack Hildyard
Edited by Bill Lenny
Release dates
  • 2 August 1971 (1971-08-02) (London)
Running time
98 minutes (theatrical release)
Language English

Puppet on a Chain is a 1971 British thriller film directed by Geoffrey Reeve and starring Sven-Bertil Taube, Barbara Parkins and Alexander Knox.[1] It is based on the novel Puppet on a Chain by Alastair MacLean.


Alistair Maclean authored "Puppet on a Chain" in 1969, and two years later, the movie was created. The story was Maclean's 14th and the seventh movie adaption of the Maclean novels franchise. The film's signature long boat chase along the canals of Amsterdam are supposedly the inspiration for the boat chase in the James Bond movie Live and Let Die two years later and in the 1988 thriller Amsterdamned, which would also feature a long canal boat chase.[2][3]

Plot introduction[edit]

When three hippie drug-dealers are murdered by "the assassin" (Peter Hutchins) in Los Angeles, the U.S. government sends special agent Paul Sherman (Sven-Bertil Taube) to track down the European source of heroin that is causing the drug war.

Sherman was born in Holland, but it is clear that Amsterdam's chief of police, Colonel De Graaf (Alexander Knox) is unhappy with having the Americans interfere in Dutch affairs. However, Sherman’s direct contact, Inspector Van Gelder (Patrick Allen) is more cooperative, since his niece, Trudi (Penny Casdagli) suffered brain damage after a heroin overdose.

When Sherman makes contact with a deep-cover agent from Washington named Maggie (Barbara Parkins), he almost immediately has a brutal encounter with "the assassin," indicating that the drug dealers have someone on the inside.[4]



Shooting of a pivotal stunt (1970)

The famous boat chase sequence was performed by Wim Wagenaar[5] and directed by Don Sharp who was specifically hired to do it. Once he completed that sequence he was hired by the producers to reshoot additional sequences. Sharp:

The chappie who directed originally [Geoffrey Reeve, who died in 2010] has gone on to produce some nice movies, and before this he had a good career in shooting commercials. And he’s a talented man. But he didn’t have a story sense then, as a director, and he and his camera operator, each set-up, you know, a sequence that looked like part of a television commercial and wasn’t there for the drama of it, or just to let the audience know what was happening. And therefore I had to take parts out of, for example, a nightclub sequence. Seventy-five per cent of it was fine; only when it came to the dialogue bits between them did I have to go in and reshoot it, because it just didn’t make sense – to shoot a couple of really good, important dialogue lines to do with the plot in a shot between the legs of a dancer . . . That wasn’t exactly it but I mean that sort of thing, you know. It was done for a visual effect.[3]


Sharp said the film went on to make "a mint of money" and claimed in 2007 he was still getting royalties from it being shown on television.[3]


  1. ^ http://ftvdb.bfi.org.uk/sift/title/47384
  2. ^ http://www.hometheaterforum.com/t/319674/puppet-on-a-chain-1971-vs-live-and-let-die-1973
  3. ^ a b c John Exshaw, "Don Sharp Director", Cinema Retro, 20 January 2012 accessed 25 March 2013
  4. ^ http://blackholereviews.blogspot.in/2009/07/puppet-on-chain-1971-as-if-daniel-craig.html
  5. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EZzLl7A7XHk

External links[edit]