Minder on the Orient Express

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Minder on the Orient Express (1985) was a film length Christmas special. Apparently, George Cole regards it as his favorite because of all the guest stars. There were a lot of them: Honor Blackman, Adam Faith and Ronald Lacey (if you don’t know the name, you’ll recognize him as the spectacled Nazi who suffered from face melt in Raiders of the Lost Ark).

Unsurprisingly, it is set on the Orient Express. How Arthur, Terry and DS Chisholm all came to be on that esteemed locomotive is a bit convoluted so here is a brief outline: A young woman,Nikki South, inherits some photographic clues from her gangster father in relation to uncovering his vast fortune. She is set upon by thugs near a nightclub where Terry is working and he comes to her rescue. Terry is dating the owner of the club and is set to go with her on the OE. Coincidentally, Nikki also has plans to be there with her fiancé.

Arthur, however, has no such plans. He winds up having to trick Terry’s girlfriend out of her ticket because he is being faced with subpoenas concerning a nasty criminal. DS Chisholm secures his place because he is to accompany a French Interpol officer. Now we have them all on board so hilarity may ensue.

I won’t give the whole movie away but rather focus on Malahide’s role in it. He is very funny playing a sort of fish out of water character. We start with him dealing with his regular nemeses DS Rycott (Peter Childs) and Arthur Daley. The police are trying to get a subpoena over to Arthur who has been warned by Terry to never accept bits of paper from funny policemen. The reason Chisholm was selected to accompany Interpol was basically down to his having a passport.

The interplay between Chisholm and the other police is, as always, very funny. I wish Minder had had more scenes with Chisholm and Rycott during its run because their head-butting was truly brilliant. Chisholm is so thrilled to be given the Interpol task you actually feel kind of happy for him. There is a funny scene where it shows everyone packing pretty big suitcases while Chisholm only has his tiny case and seems to be going for the barest of essentials.

Once on board, the humor continues with Chisholm feeling, initially, a little intimidated by the sophisticated Francois LeBlanc of Interpol who is played very well by Ralph Bates (a fine Hammer Studios film star). I loved the scene where Chisholm is offered a drink by the affable Frenchman but is too shy to clearly state he’d like a light ale so he winds up with a lurid green liqueur. Chisholm is clearly not the most continental of men.

His intimidation soon turns to irritation when he sees the Interpol agent’s gun (‘anticipating a spot of trouble with the wine waiter’) and discovers that his food allowance wasn’t enough to cover a meal on the Orient Express. Things only get worse when he finds that Arthur and Terry are also on board. It was for the best though, since he was able to hit Arthur up for a loan. Poor Chisholm’s discomfort and body language is hilarious. He is wound up so tight you’d think he is trying to implode and create a black hole. Arthur, on the other hand, delights in the situation.

It gets a bit screwy when we see that pretty much everyone on board is somehow connected to Nikki’s father and Interpol is trying to nab gangsters so it all snowballs into a big mess. Chisholm regains much of his composure when things fall apart and he is allowed to take charge. He gives LeBlanc a lovely punch thus relieving him of his gun and really seems to unwind some. His ease doesn’t last long though since he has the task of repaying Arthur £100 which he does very promptly. They are caught by Rycott who is properly amused to see a cash transaction taking place.

As for the main plot of Nikki, Terry and the gangster’s money, well, watch it and see.

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9 Responses to Minder on the Orient Express

  1. RFodchuk says:

    Testing, testing… love the summary and gallery. Also love the barrenness of Chisholm’s room. 😉 Do we ever find out what the green liqueur was?

  2. admin says:

    Thank you 🙂 I suppose some sort of menthe drink? Whatever it was, he looked like he wouldn’t like it. Not one for experimentation is Chisholm!

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