The Charismatic Christopher Plummer Blogathon: My Three Favourite Christopher Plummer Performances

I’m so excited to be taking part in my first Blogathon here on my new blog. Those of you who know me from when I used to blog a while back will remember how much I loved hosting these and taking part in others. When I saw that my friends Gabriela at Pale Writer and Gill at RealWeegieMidgetReviews were co-hosting one dedicated to Christopher Plummer, I didn’t have to think twice before signing up to take part. Thanks for having me.

The late Christopher Plummer is one of my favourite actors. He was someone who I’d watch in anything because he was so talented and could make even the worst films worth a watch. He delivered so many magnificent performances in film, TV and theatre over the years. Three of his screen performances in particular have found a very special place in my heart and I’d like to share them with you.

3. Sherlock Holmes in Murder By Decree(1979)

One of the greatest films ever to be made about the infamous 1888 Whitechapel murders. Murder By Decree focuses upon Sherlock Holmes(Christopher Plummer) and Dr. Watson(James Mason) as they help investigate the Ripper murders and in the process stumble upon a coverup which reaches to the highest offices in the land. The film is suitably dark and disturbing but there is some relief to be found courtesy of several funny and touching moments between Holmes and Watson(the “you squashed my pea!” scene being a standout). Christopher delivers what is arguably his best film performance as the most empathic Sherlock Holmes ever depicted on screen.

Christopher Plummer, James Mason and Frank Finlay in Murder By Decree.

The scene that stands out the most for me in this is where Holmes visits Annie(Genevieve Bujold)in the asylum and learns why she has been committed there, and he also realises to his horror that she is completely sane. It’s one of the most heartbreaking and powerful moments in film history and both actors give everything they have during their performances in that scene.

2. Captain Von Trapp in The Sound Of Music(1965)

I about wore out my video cassette of this film due to endless rewatches enjoying all those wonderful songs and moments. Christopher stole my heart as the reserved and grieving widower Captain Georg Von Trapp and also became my first screen crush(I’m sure I cannot be alone in that). I love how he shows us this man undergo quite the change as the film goes on. Thanks to Maria’s presence the Captain lets down his guard and becomes more open and reconnects with his family again. She helps him enjoy life again after he has cut himself off from it for so long.

Christopher Plummer as the Captain and Julie Andrews as Maria.

My favourite things about the film are the romantic scenes between Maria and the Captain. I love how both Christopher and Julie manage to convey how the Captain is fully experienced in matters of love and can see that Maria is developing feelings for him, but that she on the other hand is totally inexperienced and doesn’t fully understand what she is beginning to feel for him. Between them there is awkwardness, hesitancy, tenderness and shared fleeting glances that say so much without the need for words.

Watching the characters relationship unfold is beautiful to watch and Christopher and Julie have such lovely chemistry. Christopher famously had a love-hate relationship with this film over the years, but I hope that deep down he really knew just how much joy he’d brought to fans of the film around the world.

I love the Edelweiss sequence where the Captain and Maria keep looking at each other as he sings(excuse me for a moment while I swoon). I also love the scenes where Maria returns and is met by the Captain on the garden steps, where they dance at the party, and when they admit their feelings for each other in the gazebo.

1. Archbishop Vittorio di Contini-Verchese in the TV miniseries The Thorn Birds(1983)

I initially fell in love with this miniseries due to the overall story and the complicated relationship between Meggie(Rachel Ward) and Father Ralph(Richard Chamberlain). Plus it had Barbara Stanwyck being absolutely phenomenal as Mary Carson. One of the characters who left quite an impression on me was Archbishop Vittorio(Christopher Plummer) and he soon became my favourite thing about the series. Vittorio is an older Italian priest who becomes a mentor to Ralph and later the pair become best friends. Vittorio takes great pleasure in life and his positivity is infectious to everyone who meets him. For me he’s the most interesting character in the entire series and I think that is largely due to the way that Christopher plays him.

Christopher Plummer as Vittorio.

Vittorio is not only kind and very wise, but most important of all he understands and accepts human nature and the realities of life. He doesn’t try and stop himself from feeling emotions or desires, unlike Ralph, who thinks that because he is a priest he should become a walking bastion of virtue, untouched by human frailty and urges. Ralph tries to deny and retreat from human nature, whereas Vittorio embraces it all wholeheartedly. He’s also the only one who is there for Ralph during his deep moments of inner turmoil, regret and uncertainty about what to do about his relationship with Meggie. You miss Christopher when he’s not on screen because both he and his character are such a huge presence in the series.

I also love Christopher’s performances in Closing The Ring(2007), International Velvet(1978), Waterloo(1970),Man In The Chair(2007),Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country(1991), Beginners(2010),Danny Collins(2015),Knives Out(2019),Secrets(1992),Crossings(1986), Counterstrike(1990-1993,TV series).

What are your favourite Christopher Plummer performances?

I’d like to take this opportunity to invite everyone reading this to join my own upcoming Blogathon Discovering Classic Cinema.

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24 thoughts on “The Charismatic Christopher Plummer Blogathon: My Three Favourite Christopher Plummer Performances

  1. Hi maddy. I’d add a quintet of his historical characters: “The Fall Of The Roman Empire” (Commodus), “The Man Who Would Be King” (Rudyard Kipling), “The Insider” (Mike Wallace), “All The Money In The World” (J.P. Getty) and “The Exception” (Kaiser Wilhelm). Chiming in from chilly Port Angeles, Mark

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  2. Your first blogathon? Bravo!! You’re a natural, and I love your blog. I TOTALLY agree with you about Sound of Music? Who didn’t fall in love with Captain Von Trapp as a kid? And I need to rewatch The Thorn Birds–have not seen it since I was a teenager when it was first telecast but I remember liking it a lot (and I read the book too after watching the miniseries). But I am most excited to see Plummer’s take on Sherlock Holmes–was not aware of this film and have a feeling it will be a revelation–plus it costars one of my all-time favorite actresses, Miss Genevieve Bujold (hey, guys, how about a Blogathon for her??) Again, thanks for your great post on an iconic actor.

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  3. Hi there Maddy, honoured you joined our blogging as part of your return to blogging. Ans with such a lovely selection of his filmography, I had totally forgotten he was in The Thorn Birds until I reviewed this myself recently, and I do love his rapport with Mason too. As for your crush, it may not surprise you but Charmian Carr – who played Liesel – confessed to having an off screen crush on him too.

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    1. He and James Mason are wonderful together and I wish they’d made another Holmes film. Yes I’d heard that about Charmian. Who can blame her? LOL.

      Thank you so much,Gill. It’s great to be back. Glad to see so much love for Christopher Plummer and his work.

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  4. You’re spot on about Christopher Plummer being the best thing about many of the movies and TV shows he was in, even when he wasn’t the lead. The performances you and the commenters mentioned are all stand-outs. I’ll add just one more, off the beaten track of most of his work: He is an absolutely chilling psychopath in the 1978 thriller The Silent Partner.

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  5. Sorry Maddy – don’t know what happened to my last comment – hit a key by mistake, seems to have vanished the lot. Anyway, the gist of my rather long reply was to say well done on a really thoughtful post, and to share my admiration for the excellent Murder by Decree, a wholly successful attempt to merge Holmes in with the Ripper murders. I especially love how surprisingly emotional the character becomes when in Plummer’s hands.

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  6. Hi, I just want to say that I am a great fan of Christopher Plummer – but it might come as a shock to you and the whole English speaking world community that “Sound of Music” is virtually unknown in Austria, Germany and Switzerland! The film is never shown on any German speaking TV channel. The first time I saw it was on a shuttle bus from Madrid to Salamanca with a lot of US students heading to the University there. A hotel in a Swiss resort I often visit is called “Edelweiss”, and when an American tourist asked directions and suddenly started singing “the song”, I was flabbergasted and thought he must be drunk or ate funny mushrooms… Only the city of Salzburg began, rather late (and grudgingly, but who would say no to cash…), to pay attention to the tourists who wanted to see the sites where the musical was shot. – However, CP’s performances were always classy – I even liked him as a Klingon in Star Trek!

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  7. Great choices! I’m very fond of Plummer’s performance in The Thorn Birds (1983), and I love his take on Sherlock Holmes. I’m a huge Holmes fan, and I think he made the character his own. Plummer isn’t the best Holmes — Jeremy Brett is my favorite — but he is the warmest — he plays the character with a lot of heart.

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  8. Until I was about 12, the only movie my family owned was The Sound of Music. And I’m still not tired of it 😀

    I really want to see Murder by Decree, as I love Sherlock Holmes and keep hearing such good things about it.

    Glad to have you back in the blogosphere, Maddy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello, Rachel! Wonderful to find you again. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas. I don’t think it will ever be possible to grow tired of The Sound Of Music! Hope you get to see Murder By Decree sometime.

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