The showbiz adage of 'never work with children or animals' was, within the British film industry, extended to 'never work with children, animals or Denholm Elliot'. He was, rightly, labelled a 'scene stealer' and with his passing, one of the 'true stars' were lost.
Gabrielle Byrne and Greta Scacchi star in this 1984 UK film, but the film, despite featuring a young Robbie Coltrane ( Cracker ), is forever Elliot's. Massively underrated, this film is a powerful indictment of the true 'powers that be'. Governments come and governments go, but the 'real' powerbrokers, along with the 'internal workings' remain in place, rumbling on.
Is this a political thriller, a journalistic thriller, a shadowy thriller even - scary too, maybe ?. Probably all and more besides. It's very taut, very fast, very complex and, perhaps, very true to life ( the scary bit ). Underhand and double dealing are rife and little mercy is shown to the designated stooges. Elliot, as Vernon Bayliss, suffers no fools here and realising the enormity of the truth and confiding in nobody, pays a heavy price for his refusal to be swept along with the tide of seemingly incontrovertible proofs. Perhaps Fox Mulder saw this film and coined the phrase 'trust no-one' from Elliots' performance.
What is sure, though, is that a field day awaits conspiracy theorists who watch this. There is no sex, no violence and no profanity and I defy anyone to watch this film only once.