The Holcroft Covenant (film)

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The Holcroft Covenant
The Holcroft Covenant poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Produced by Mort Abrahams
Edie Landau
Ely Landau
Written by Edward Anhalt
George Axelrod
Cinematography Gerry Fisher
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
October 18, 1985
Running time
112 min
Budget £8,000,000[1] or $13 million[2]
Box office $393,825[3]

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.


The story concerns Noel Holcroft's late father (a former associate of Adolf Hitler) who left behind a fortune, supposedly to make amends for his wrongdoings. Now, 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.



Edy and Ely Landau bought the film rights to the novel along with The Chancellor Manuscript.[4] The first draft of the script was done by John Hopkins. Then Edward Anhalt was brought in to do some work on it. John Frankenheimer became attached as director and he got George Axelrod to do a rewrite.[2]

"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."[2]

Axelrod said he did not read the novel as "I didn't have time".[2]

Frankenheimer called the film "a conspiracy movie" about "a man's search for his father."[2] 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."[5]

The film was part of a five picture slate from Thorn EMI, others including A Passage to India, Wild Geese II, Morons from Outer Space and Dream Child.[6]

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."[7]

Filming started on 2 July 1984 in Berlin, with James Caan in the lead. He walked off the set due to disagreements with the producers.[8][9] Michael Caine replaced him and filming resumed 11 July. Filming also took place in Munich, Landau and London.[10]

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."[11]

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."[5]


  1. ^ Andrew Yule, Hollywood a Go-Go: The True Story of the Cannon Film Empire, Sphere Books, 1987 p137
  2. ^ a b c d e Red lights, cameras and chaos in Berlin O'Toole, Lawrence. The Globe and Mail8 Nov 1984: E.1.
  3. ^
  4. ^ 5 ON THE LUDLUM EXCHANGE Mann, Roderick. Los Angeles Times 17 June 1980: g1.
  5. ^ a b FILM DIRECTOR SURGES BACK AFTER INACTION Matt Wolf Chicago Tribune 3 May 1985: J.
  6. ^ Backers' passage to prosperity Brown, Maggie. The Guardian 11 May 1985: 19.
  7. ^ Dutch star prepares to shine in America SUSAN FERRIER MACKAY. The Globe and Mail15 June 1984: E.1.
  8. ^ At the Movies: Loneliness of the actor as a computer. |Nan Robertson. New York Times 20 July 1984: C6.
  9. ^ Weinraub, Bernard (May 17, 2004). "James Caan Takes a Gamble On 'Las Vegas,' and Scores". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ MICHAEL CAINE TO STAR IN 'THE HOLCROFT COVENANT' Philadelphia Daily News24 July 1984: 48.
  11. ^ "The Curse of Frankenheimer". The Guardian. August 18, 1984. 

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