Christopher Plummer died today. The Canadian actor was 91 years old and he left behind a truly impressive filmography. Below are ten films that I would recommend if you want to have a Christopher Plummer film fesival this weekend. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s a bit of an idiosyncratic list, a mixture of obscure and cult films with a few films that are well-known but which perhaps aren’t usually thought of as being Christopher Plummer films. This was intentional on my part. Everyone already knows that Christopher Plummer was in The Sound of Music and Knives Out. I wanted to recommend a few films that you might not see listed elsewhere.
So, with all that in mind, here are 10 Christopher Plummer films to watch this weekend:
Starcrash (1979) — One of my favorite films of all time, this Star Wars rip-off features Christopher Plummer in the small but pivotal role of the Emperor of the Galaxy. Plummer brings a lot dignity and humanity to the role. If the galaxy does ever have an emperor, I hope he will be as wise as Christopher Plummer was in Starcrash.
Up (2009) — Christopher Plummer lends his amazing voice to this PIXAR film about an old man who floats away on an adventure and who runs into far more sinister adventurer named Charles Muntz. Plummer is wonderfully menacing at Muntz, using his voice to create one of PIXAR’s most memorable villains.
Murder By Decree (1979) — In this Canadian film, Plummer plays Sherlock Holmes while James Mason plays Dr. Watson. Together, they investigate the crimes of Jack the Ripper and uncover a royal conspiracy. Plummer is perhaps one of the most credible Sherlock Holmes to ever appear on screen, breathing real life into a character that otherwise could have felt like a literary invention. Thanks to Plummer’s performance, the final scenes are poignant and rather sad and perhaps as emotional as any scene to be found in any screen adaptations of Holmes’s adventures.
12 Monkeys (1995) — Plummer is nicely cast of Brad Pitt’s father in this Terry Gilliam-directed time travel epic.
The Fall of the Roman Empire (1964) — In this historical epic, Plummer played yet another emperor, the mad Commodus. Though The Fall of the Roman Empire has its flaws, it’s still an enjoyable work of spectacle and Plummer’s villainous turn is definitely one of the film’s highlights. Whereas other Roman epics often portrayed the “bad” emperors as being decadent and somewhat buffoonish, Plummer plays up Commodus’s anger and his desire for revenge. He’s the emotionally vulnerable tyrant.
Dreamscape (1984) — The enjoyable sci-fi/horror hybrid features Plummer as a sinister government agent who is conspiring to kill the President through his dreams. Though the role might not have much depth, this is a well-made movie and Plummer makes for an effective villain.
The Silent Partner (1979) — Christopher Plummer is terrifying in this Canadian film, playing a bank robber who dresses up like Santa Claus and who has no hesitation about using violence to get what he wants. This is one of Plummer’s best villainous turns.
Barrymore (2011) — The great Christopher Plummer plays the great John Barrymore in this Canadian film. This may not be Plummer’s best-known performances but it’s one of his best.
Alexander (2004) — As silly as this Oliver Stone epic sometimes is, Christopher Plummer is the ideal Aristotle.
Vampire in Venice (1988) — Christopher Plummer vs. Klaus Kinski in Venice! Kinski is Dracula. Plummer is basically Van Helsing. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime meeting of two unique acting talents.
Finally, a few other Christopher Plummer films that I’d also recommend checking out: Inside Daisy Clover, The Pyx, The Man Who Would Be King, Wolf, Dolores Claiborne, The New World, The Last Station, Beginners, All The Money In The World, and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.
Christopher Plummer, R.I.P.