The Chairman

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The Chairman
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
Starring Gregory Peck
Anne Heywood
Arthur Hill
Alan Dobie
Conrad Yama
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography John Wilcox
Ted Moore (uncredited)
Edited by Richard Best
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • 25 June 1969 (1969-06-25)
Running time
98 minutes
Country United Kingdom
United States
Language English
Budget $4,915,000[1]
Box office $2.5 million (US/ Canada rentals)[2]

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.



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.[3]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
  3. ^ p.317 Chibnall, Steve J. Lee Thompson Manchester University Press, 2000

External links[edit]