The Holcroft Covenant (film)
|The Holcroft Covenant|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||John Frankenheimer|
|Produced by||Mort Abrahams|
|Written by||Edward Anhalt|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|October 18, 1985|
|Budget||£8,000,000 or $13 million|
The Holcroft Covenant is a 1985 spy thriller film based on the Robert Ludlum novel of the same name. The film stars Michael Caine and was directed by John Frankenheimer. The script was written by Edward Anhalt, George Axelrod, and John Hopkins.
Noel Holcroft's late father - who was a former associate of Adolf Hitler - left behind a fortune supposedly to make amends for his wrongdoings. But more than 40 years later, Noel finds himself embroiled in a web of conspiracies involving the children of two of his father's Nazi colleagues, a mysterious organization supposedly devoted to ensuring the Nazis never again come to power, and a woman who may be Noel's downfall or his only hope.
- Michael Caine as Noel Holcroft
- Anthony Andrews as Johann von Tiebolt/Jonathan Tennyson
- Victoria Tennant as Helden von Tiebolt/Helden Tennyson
- Lilli Palmer as Althene Holcroft
- Mario Adorf as Erich Kessler/Jürgen Maas
- Michael Lonsdale as Manfredi
- Bernard Hepton as Leighton
- Shane Rimmer as Lieutenant Miles
- Alexander Kerst as General Heinrich Clausen
- Michael Wolf as General Erich Kessler
- Richard Münch as Oberst
Edy and Ely Landau bought the film rights to the novel along with The Chancellor Manuscript. The first draft of the script was done by John Hopkins before Edward Anhalt was brought in to do rewrites. However when John Frankenheimer became attached as director, he got George Axelrod to rework most of the screenplay. Frankenheimer called the film "a conspiracy movie" about "a man's search for his father." The director added, "I love Ludlum. I'm a great fan of Ludlum. I buy Ludlum's books. I mean, I pay bookstore prices for Ludlum."
"The script I worked from was relatively humorless," says Axelrod. "When John and I suggested adding much more humor, the producers said they didn't want a Walter Matthau romp. But John told them he could take the script of Some Like It Hot and turn it into a social documentary on the effects of gang warfare on the music business in Chicago during Prohibition and how that affected women's liberation - and that they needn't worry about him being too funny." Axelrod admitted he did not read the novel because he didn't have time.
Renee Soutendijk was meant to have a role in the film but it was removed shortly before filming and she was told she was not required for filming. "In my opinion, it was central to the story but . . . such things have happened before," she said. "It's the American way of dealing with people. In the U.S. you become aware of just being a product. You're either money to them or you're not."
Although James Caan was originally cast as Noel Holcroft, he walked off the set due to disagreements with the producers. Director John Frankenheimer later said "I will be forever grateful to James Caan. Forever. Because he gave me the best gift that's ever happened to me in my career, which is Michael Caine." As far as I'm concerned, he is probably the best actor I've ever worked with," added Frankenheimer. "Certainly the best actor I've ever worked with who gets the girl."
The film was released on October 18, 1985. Against an $8 million budget, the film made only $393,825 in the United States during its initial release.
The film has mostly negative reviews. Variety said its troubled production had resulted in a film that has "a muddled narrative deficient in thrills or plausibility". Time Out London says all Caine does is spend the film "jetting to international tourist locations so that he can be filled in on the next plot twist by an obliging minor character". Questionable directorial decisions by John Frankenheimer combined with "Ludlum’s lame storytelling" and "trying to turn the rambling, 528-page potboiler into a leaner 100-minute-long movie" are also said to have contributed to the film's failings.
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- "The Holcroft Covenant". Variety. Retrieved 28 October 2018.
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