Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||J. Lee Thompson|
|Produced by||Mort Abrahams|
Arthur P. Jacobs
|Screenplay by||Ben Maddow|
|Based on||The Chairman|
by Jay Richard Kennedy
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
Ted Moore (uncredited)
|Edited by||Richard Best|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$2.5 million (US/ Canada rentals)|
The Chairman (or alternatively The Most Dangerous Man in the World) is a 1969 spy film starring Gregory Peck. It was directed by J. Lee Thompson. The screenplay was by Ben Maddow, based on a novel by Jay Richard Kennedy.
A Western agent is sent to Communist China in order to retrieve an important agricultural enzyme. What he does not know is that there is a bomb implanted in his head; the forces behind his mission will detonate it if he fails to carry out the assignment.
Nobel Prize–winning university professor Dr. John Hathaway's mission begins with Lt. General Shelby's request at the US Embassy in London that he travel to China to visit Soong Li, a former professor of Hathaway's who reportedly has developed an enzyme that would permit crops to grow in any kind of climate. The hesitant Hathaway is further urged to go by a phone call from the President of the United States. Hathaway is concerned about the situation, as is a friend he knows named Kay.
A transmitter is implanted in Hathaway's skull as a tracking device. He isn't informed that it also includes an explosive element in case of emergency that can be triggered by the Americans if necessary. Neither the U.S. nor the Soviet Union want the enzyme to remain exclusively in Chinese hands.
Hathaway is met in Hong Kong by security chief Yin, who begins by taking Hathaway to meet Red China's party chairman. They play a game of table tennis and discuss the enzyme, which the Chairman claims he intends to share with the entire world. He is also reunited with Soong Li and meets his daughter Ting Ling. No one thinks Hathaway is really spying on the Red Chinese regime.
Soong Li, possibly betrayed by his daughter, is attacked by Red Guards looking for the formula. Before he dies, Soong Li gives a book to Hathaway containing quotations from the Chairman. The professor flees with the book and a piece of microfilm, trying to reach the Russian border before Yin's men can capture him. He is unable to scale a fence, so Shelby elects to set off the explosive device, until Soviet soldiers arrive at the last minute to help Hathaway cross safely.
Once safe, the professor discovers that the enzyme's formula is hidden in the Chairman's book of quotations. He gets the device removed and returns to Kay.
- Gregory Peck as Dr. John Hathaway
- Anne Heywood as Kay Hanna
- Arthur Hill as Shelby
- Alan Dobie as Benson
- Conrad Yama as The Chairman
- Zienia Merton as Ting Ling
- Ori Levy as Shertov
- Eric Young as Yin
- Burt Kwouk as Chang Shou
- Alan White as Gardner
- Keye Luke as Professor Soong Li
For the British theatrical release, J. Lee Thompson was told he had to change the title to The Most Dangerous Man in the World, as most filmgoers would mistakenly think that the film was about business.
According to Fox records the film required $9,750,000 in rentals to break even and by 11 December 1970 had made $5,425,000 so made a loss to the studio.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p255
- "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
- p.317 Chibnall, Steve J. Lee Thompson Manchester University Press, 2000
- Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 328.