Admin: It is time for a Christmas themed Analysis of a Scene. While “Minder on the Orient Express” might not seem especially Christmassy, it actually is. Back in 1985 it aired on Christmas day as the highlight of ITV’s Christmas schedule.
In this clip, poor Chisholm has the unenviable task of enlisting Arthur Daley’s and Terry McCann’s help in keeping his undercover copper status a secret as he takes part in an Interpol investigation. I don’t know about that; he still screams “copper” or at the very least “security” to me. But, they agree.
RF: Agreed, Chisholm’s appearance pretty much screams “copper” no matter where he is.
Admin: To further add to his exasperation, he has to lower himself to borrow money from Arthur Daley. It seems the stipend the Metropolitan Police provided him with isn’t nearly enough to cover the lavish expenses of the Orient Express. To us at the Appreciation, this is made all the more fitting when you consider George Cole played a young Ebeneezer Scrooge in the classic Alistair Sim production.
RF: Chisholm’s expression when he discovers his per diem is too pitifully small to cover his expenses is a wonder to behold. You can just sense his panic. 😀 He can’t possibly ask his French colleague, François, for help and the only other people he knows on the train are Terry and Arthur. What a horrible predicament! He’s even reduced to try speaking French to the train chefs in order to beg some food [spoiler alert: it doesn’t work].
Admin: Poor Chisholm. He really was very cute when begging for food, but they didn’t appreciate him at all.
RF: Then the gods decided to throw in some additional irony by having Chisholm take cover from Arthur in the pantry. 😀 He’s too honest to take anything, of course. And/or he forgot to pack a can-opener.
Daley: Argh! He’s there again, Terry. He’s standing there.
Daley: Chisholm. Look.
Terry: Alright, alright. [opens door, then slams it] He is and all. It’s Chisholm, innit.
Admin: Daley isn’t in the best state at the moment and believes the early Chisholm sightings are actually hallucinations. He had just been in a scuffle with a sticky fingered pensioner who chucked him out of the train into a mail cart, so he’s a tad groggy at the moment.
RF: And Chisholm probably wishes he’d hallucinated that Arthur and Terry were on the train. Unfortunately, they’re the only potential allies at his disposal at the moment. I guess he’s the equivalent of Arthur’s Ghost of Christmas Present? 😉
Chisholm: [Enters] Very droll, McCann.
Daley: [prods Chisholm] Mr. Chisholm, it is you. Oh, thank gawd.
Chisholm: Well, I wish I was as pleased to see you, Daley.
Admin: Chisholm makes a very aggressive entrance. He looms right up to Terry. His reaction at being poked is funny. I think he actually took that rather well. He continues the aggressive stance when he spits out, “I wish I was as pleased to see you, Daley.” Poor Chisholm. Seeing those two show up while he’s on an important mission is catastrophic.
RF: Poor Chisholm isn’t in the best temper at the moment. He doesn’t have enough money, missed a delightful French dinner, has had nothing but a handful of peanuts, and is stuck on a train full of villains with only the lackadaisical François for back-up, so no wonder he’s out of sorts.
Admin: I still say Honor Blackman was giving him a good looking over. I’m sure she’d have footed the bill to help feed a hungry young officer doing his duty. 😉
RF: If he wasn’t already imploding from stress and hunger, an offer like that from her would’ve certainly done it. 😀
Terry: Having a little holiday, are you?
Chisholm: Holiday? I don’t know the meaning of the word. Well, I suppose there is no harm in telling you, I am liaising with Interpol.
Admin: If that scene earlier in the production where Chisholm is packing his suitcase is anything to go by, I think we can safely say he really has no concept of what holidays (particularly continental ones) are all about. I love the fiercely defiant way he says it though. And, there is a smidge of pride in his manner when he tells them he is liaising with Interpol. Chisholm is always a man dedicated to his work.
RF: The scene where Chisholm is packing is priceless, for so many reasons. 😀 And no, it doesn’t seem like he takes many, if any, holidays, going by how new everything seemed to him, like taking the Channel ferry. But then, he did brag to Jones once that he was a “twenty-four hour copper”. And he is very proud of getting this assignment and doesn’t want to screw it up, so he’s even willing to enlist Terry and Arthur’s help.
Terry: [to Daley] They’re the ones who send the flowers, in’t they? [Daley laughs]
Chisholm: Alright, alright. We may be trundling across foreign soil, but sooner or later we’ll be back on the manner where I rule, OK.
Daley: Oh…yeah. I think I preferred you when you were a sallucin…hallucination, Mr. Chisholm. [sits down]
Admin: I guess Terry is referring to Interflora there. At any rate, Chisholm is not amused. He quickly works to reassert what little authority he has. It does have the affect of clearing Daley’s muddled head a little bit though.
RF: I like the way Chisholm gives Terry a little stare-down when he mentions they’ll soon be back “on the manner where I rule”. He has a point there. And Chisholm isn’t one to let go of a grudge for any reason.
Admin: Yes, it is a sharp little rebuke and reminder of what can happen when he’s back home, free to breathe down Terry’s neck and rifle through Daley’s lock-up.
Chisholm: Thing is it is vital that certain persons on this train do not realize that I’m a policeman. So, I’m asking for your cooperation in this matter. As far as the other passengers are concerned, you do not know me, right!
Admin: You can tell that Chisholm absolutely hates having to try and get Daley and Terry on board with all this. He seems very embarrassed to learn that they have managed to stumble into what he initially considered a big step in his career. Everything is going wrong for him. He’s hungry, he doesn’t respect his Interpol associate François LeBlanc, and now it might all be falling apart because his albatross in a trilby has just turned up in the most unexpected place possible. Poor, poor Chisholm.
RF: Yeah, Chisholm is being sort of embarrassed and forceful at the same time. He’s trying to get the seriousness of the situation across without giving too much away. He’s also trying to get control of the one element he can most easily manage. But Terry and Arthur are a couple of very loose cannons in an already unpredictable situation. Chisholm should’ve asked for danger pay.
Terry: Who are they?
Chisholm: There is no need for you to know that.
Terry: Oh, in that case there’s no need for any cooperation, is there. I mean, it goes well against the grain, dunnit. [Daley nods]
Chisholm: I might have known. Alright. There are some faces on the train who helped the late, but not lamented, Jack South pull a certain bullion robbery. The bullion has never been recovered that is all I’m going to say.
Terry: Yeah, alright then, mum’s the word.
Daley: Yeah, schtum’s the word.
Admin: Well, that isn’t very civic minded of Terry. Of course, it would turn out that he’s struck up a friendship with South’s lovely daughter Nikki South who is trying to piece together some clues he’s left behind. Chisholm is disgusted, but not surprised, by Terry’s churlishness. He seems a bit like a teacher talking to an irritating student actually.
RF: Chisholm’s reluctance to reveal who the “faces” are might also be, in a way, an attempt to protect Terry and Arthur. These villains are a few rungs above the types Arthur usually deals with and are a lot more willing to murder people. Of course, Terry doesn’t reveal to Chisholm that he’s already acquainted with Jack South’s daughter, who’s on her way to collect a large amount of money from a numbered Swiss bank account – which might’ve helped Chisholm to understand why they were all on the same train.
Terry: [to Daley] Listen, you alright for a minute, I want to go and get a lager, I’m gasping.
Daley: Yeah, alright, but don’t be long, will ya.
Terry: I’ll just be a minute.
Daley: Come back soon.
Terry: Yeah, alright. [leaves]
Admin: Awww, don’t worry, Arthur. You’re perfectly safe with Mr. Chisholm there to protect you.
RF: Arthur does seem to be a little more clingy than usual. 😉
Chisholm: [sits down] Actually, Arthur, there is one more favor you could do for me.
Daley: Oh [gestures to the drinks] help yourself.
Admin: Chisholm’s body language here is astonishing. He folds his arms so tight and clenches his jaw so hard that I’m amazed he didn’t shatter. This is easily the hardest thing he’s had to do in a long time. He is practically imploding. Daley seems utterly bewildered by the whole thing, thinking that Chisholm just wants a stiff drink.
RF: Poor Chisholm is going through hell. 😀 With Terry gone (and he’d never dare ask this if Terry was there), his voice becomes more subdued and his body language, as you say, makes him a mass of tension. He
obviously hates what he has to do here, but he has no other choice. If Arthur turns him down, he really will be stuck. Mr. Malahide’s expressions are amazing; Chisholm conveys reluctance, disgust, and desperate supplication all at the same time. Arthur seems to sense that something’s going on from the way he sidles away from Chisholm, too.
Admin: Yes, Daley is utterly confused here. He’s probably worried that Chisholm will literally blow up. 🙂
Chisholm: [laughs] Oh, no, um…as a matter of fact, I had to leave in rather a hurry and…um. Well, to be frank the Metropolitan Police are not exactly generous with expenses…and..uh….
Daley: [chuckles and moves towards a heavily imploding Chisholm] Am I to understand you right, Mr. Chisholm, that you are a bit short of dosh
Admin: I love this bit. It is one of the funniest scenes in the movie. Poor Chisholm’s embarrassment and discomfort just continue to grow as he becomes increasingly more brittle. The body language is epic. Patrick Malahide practically got in a callisthenic workout with that performance. And, to cap it all off, Arthur Daley laughs mischievously as he realizes the wonderful position he has just been put in. He puts his arm around the tense sergeant in a manner as cruel as it is avuncular. It is pure poetry from Messrs. Malahide and Cole. I love it!
RF: That’s right, Daley chortles in delight as he realizes that he’ll pretty much have permanent karma points over Chisholm for this. And poor Chisholm is nearly twitching with discomfort, seemingly barely holding himself in place as he’s forced to borrow money from his nemesis. You can almost see him breaking out into a cold sweat. Then Arthur puts a companionable arm around his shoulders, adding insult to injury – especially since we’ve seen in previous episodes that Chisholm has a horror of being touched by Arthur. Now, to be completely fair, Arthur does lend him the money, when he could’ve easily dragged out the torment and said no, so at least Chisholm’s suffering wasn’t for nothing. There’s a lot of wonderful unspoken acting going on here and I totally agree, this is a wonderful scene for both Mr. Malahide and Mr. Cole.
Admin: Yes, Daley seizes the opportunity quickly and doesn’t drag it out too far. He knows he’ll get his reward when Chisholm has to eat some crow and pay him back. Christmas came early for Daley that year. 🙂
Admin: This is such a good scene and very well acted. It perfectly sets everything up to go horribly wrong for Chisholm. Daley might be his eternal nemesis, but there is no doubt that Patrick Malahide and George Cole shared a professional and artistic chemistry that holds up every bit as well today as it did over 30 years ago.
RF: It’s a great little scene and agreed that it’s very well-acted. Poor Chisholm was looking forward to a plum assignment with lots of prestige, possibly leading to a promotion, and everything has gone pear-shaped in the worst possible ways for him. You can’t help but sympathize with the guy. It’s nice to know that Arthur had some mercy on poor Chisholm and loaned him some cash (just like Scrooge after he reformed? 😉 ). Also agreed that Patrick Malahide and George Cole had a lovely chemistry; it’s always a treat to watch them together.