The File of the Golden Goose


1h 49m 1969

Brief Synopsis

An American agent teams with Scotland Yard to tackle a counterfeiting ring.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Crime
Thriller
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 1 Oct 1969
Production Company
Caralan--Dador; Theme Pictures
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Synopsis

Peter Novak, a U. S. Treasury agent, narrowly escapes an assassination attempt in which his girl friend is killed just before he leaves for London to investigate an international counterfeit ring called the Golden Goose. He is dismayed when Scotland Yard assigns Peter Thompson to help him; Thompson is a family man, and Novak senses that he will be too cautious. Novak and Thompson work their way into the gang's confidence in Liverpool, and then the two men fake a quarrel, enabling Novak to move to the London branch of the operation run by Nick "The Owl" Harrison. In an effort to infiltrate the top of the gang, Novak supplies The Owl with new counterfeit plates to replace the gang's inferior ones. When Thompson arrives in London in an obvious position of trust with the gang, Novak suspects that he has sold out. The Owl suggests that the three of them go into business for themselves, but the gang tricks Thompson into revealing his true identity. He is murdered, and The Owl is also killed for his venture at independence. Novak is taken to a mansion where a gang member promises to turn state's evidence. Their conversation is overheard by one of the gang leaders, who kills the potential traitor but is himself killed by Novak. Although he is wounded, Novak, along with a force of men from Scotland Yard, stops the top counterfeiter (revealed to be a well-respected financier) from escaping in a helicopter.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
Crime
Thriller
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
New York opening: 1 Oct 1969
Production Company
Caralan--Dador; Theme Pictures
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Eastmancolor)

Articles

The File of the Golden Goose


In 1956 Yul Brynner had become an unlikely leading man, thanks to his bravura performance in The King and I followed the same year by The Ten Commandments and Anastasia . During the next ten years he would find himself in demand and he played more diverse roles than almost any other actor of his generation. However, the end of the 1960s, with the end of the Hollywood studio system, the dominance of television, and the changing social climate, fewer films were being made. Brynner, like most of his contemporaries, found that roles were becoming scarce. It was during this time that he started making smaller budgeted films overseas. One of them was The File of the Golden Goose (1969), a spy thriller shot in London by American expatriate actor/director Sam Wanamaker. (He had left the United States during the anti-Communist House Un-American Activities Committee hearings and settled in England where he would remain for the rest of his life).

Brynner's son Rock recalled this difficult time for his father in his book Yul: The Man Who Would Be King. "By now, he told me firmly, he regarded himself as a character actor, as if this were a rite of passage that the family ought to note. He was quite realistic about aging, and recognized that he has passed the point where he could play romantic leading men on the screen – such scripts just weren't proposed to him anymore. Instead, he was being offered roles as villains that, more and more often, were extremely violent. But by this time [1969], for a variety of economic reasons, the film business was in such dire straits that even Henry Fonda was making spaghetti Westerns - and so was Yul. These were Westerns, shot in Italy and Spain, in which only the famous star spoke English; all the other characters were played by gnarly-looking Italians who merely mouth the English dialogue, which was later dubbed. This was not the goal Yul had had in mind when he had studied with Michael Chekhov, but he regarded it as a personal insult when I pointed that out, as he noted that I myself was being supported by these awful movies. The truth was, though, that by the end of 1969 there were simply no roles being offered to Yul, and he had to admit that he was desperate. Not only did things look bleak in the short term, it was not even clear that one or two great roles could give his career the boost it needed."

If Brynner needed a career boost, he certainly did not get it from The File of the Golden Goose. While not a bad film, it was not the hit he needed. Howard Thompson's review of the film in the October 3, 1969 New York Times notes, "The mildly arresting thing about The File of the Golden Goose, a standard little sleuthing melodrama about a counterfeiting ring, is a background sprinkling of London landmarks in nice color. As the story forges ahead familiarly, we glimpse Parliament from the Thames and the promenade of Royal Festival Hall, the neon glitter of Soho, a swank Mayfair gambling club, the Portobello Market and the Burlington Arcade. [The film was also shot at Piccadilly, the Battersea Pleasure Gardens, and Jermyn Street]. Unfortunately, the picture gets in the way, as does the shiny, bald pate of Yul Brynner, standing out as obviously as the London Hilton. And the star, mind you, is tackling a role where subtlety is a matter of life and death, as an F.B.I. agent who joins the gang of cutthroats, burrows deep into their operational secrets and - surprise, surprise - topples the culprits, with some assist from Scotland Yard...And Sam [director Wanamaker] eventually pulls the picture together a bit more tautly than it warrants, in such scenes as a bedroom double-murder and the film's best vignette, a brief, fatal encounter at the Burlington Arcade. Moreover, if the screenplay by John C. Higgins and James B. Gordon offers absolutely nothing new, it does stick to the business at hand, with no romance dutifully dragged in. But The File of the Golden Goose can best be refiled and promptly forgotten."

Producer: George Fowler, David E. Rose
Director: Sam Wanamaker
Screenplay: James B. Gordon, John C. Higgins
Cinematography: Ken Hodges
Film Editing: Oswald Hafenrichter
Art Direction: George Provis
Music: Harry Robertson
Cast: Yul Brynner (Peter Novak), Charles Gray (Harrison), Edward Woodward (Arthur Thompson), John Barrie (Supt. Sloane), Adrienne Corri (Angela Richmond), Graham Crowden (Smythe).
C-106m. Letterboxed.

by Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES:

The Screen: Spy Story: Golden Goose' Treads a Familiar Trail
Yul: The Man Who Would Be King by Rock Brynner
www.reelstreets.com
The Internet Movie Database
The File Of The Golden Goose

The File of the Golden Goose

In 1956 Yul Brynner had become an unlikely leading man, thanks to his bravura performance in The King and I followed the same year by The Ten Commandments and Anastasia . During the next ten years he would find himself in demand and he played more diverse roles than almost any other actor of his generation. However, the end of the 1960s, with the end of the Hollywood studio system, the dominance of television, and the changing social climate, fewer films were being made. Brynner, like most of his contemporaries, found that roles were becoming scarce. It was during this time that he started making smaller budgeted films overseas. One of them was The File of the Golden Goose (1969), a spy thriller shot in London by American expatriate actor/director Sam Wanamaker. (He had left the United States during the anti-Communist House Un-American Activities Committee hearings and settled in England where he would remain for the rest of his life). Brynner's son Rock recalled this difficult time for his father in his book Yul: The Man Who Would Be King. "By now, he told me firmly, he regarded himself as a character actor, as if this were a rite of passage that the family ought to note. He was quite realistic about aging, and recognized that he has passed the point where he could play romantic leading men on the screen – such scripts just weren't proposed to him anymore. Instead, he was being offered roles as villains that, more and more often, were extremely violent. But by this time [1969], for a variety of economic reasons, the film business was in such dire straits that even Henry Fonda was making spaghetti Westerns - and so was Yul. These were Westerns, shot in Italy and Spain, in which only the famous star spoke English; all the other characters were played by gnarly-looking Italians who merely mouth the English dialogue, which was later dubbed. This was not the goal Yul had had in mind when he had studied with Michael Chekhov, but he regarded it as a personal insult when I pointed that out, as he noted that I myself was being supported by these awful movies. The truth was, though, that by the end of 1969 there were simply no roles being offered to Yul, and he had to admit that he was desperate. Not only did things look bleak in the short term, it was not even clear that one or two great roles could give his career the boost it needed." If Brynner needed a career boost, he certainly did not get it from The File of the Golden Goose. While not a bad film, it was not the hit he needed. Howard Thompson's review of the film in the October 3, 1969 New York Times notes, "The mildly arresting thing about The File of the Golden Goose, a standard little sleuthing melodrama about a counterfeiting ring, is a background sprinkling of London landmarks in nice color. As the story forges ahead familiarly, we glimpse Parliament from the Thames and the promenade of Royal Festival Hall, the neon glitter of Soho, a swank Mayfair gambling club, the Portobello Market and the Burlington Arcade. [The film was also shot at Piccadilly, the Battersea Pleasure Gardens, and Jermyn Street]. Unfortunately, the picture gets in the way, as does the shiny, bald pate of Yul Brynner, standing out as obviously as the London Hilton. And the star, mind you, is tackling a role where subtlety is a matter of life and death, as an F.B.I. agent who joins the gang of cutthroats, burrows deep into their operational secrets and - surprise, surprise - topples the culprits, with some assist from Scotland Yard...And Sam [director Wanamaker] eventually pulls the picture together a bit more tautly than it warrants, in such scenes as a bedroom double-murder and the film's best vignette, a brief, fatal encounter at the Burlington Arcade. Moreover, if the screenplay by John C. Higgins and James B. Gordon offers absolutely nothing new, it does stick to the business at hand, with no romance dutifully dragged in. But The File of the Golden Goose can best be refiled and promptly forgotten." Producer: George Fowler, David E. Rose Director: Sam Wanamaker Screenplay: James B. Gordon, John C. Higgins Cinematography: Ken Hodges Film Editing: Oswald Hafenrichter Art Direction: George Provis Music: Harry Robertson Cast: Yul Brynner (Peter Novak), Charles Gray (Harrison), Edward Woodward (Arthur Thompson), John Barrie (Supt. Sloane), Adrienne Corri (Angela Richmond), Graham Crowden (Smythe). C-106m. Letterboxed. by Lorraine LoBianco SOURCES: The Screen: Spy Story: Golden Goose' Treads a Familiar Trail Yul: The Man Who Would Be King by Rock Brynner www.reelstreets.com The Internet Movie Database

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Location scenes filmed in London. Released in Great Britain in June 1969; running time: 109 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Fall October 1969

Released in United States Fall October 1969