Today we’re celebrating the life of legendary actor Christopher Plummer, whose 75 year career netted him numerous legendary roles, the Triple Crown of Acting, made him the oldest acting Oscar nominee and winner, and saw him become infamous in the twilight of his career for his replacement of Kevin Spacey in All the Money in the World that took place in eight days barely a month before the film’s release.
The Sound of Music
When I think of Christopher Plummer, I think of The Sound of Music. I think of his iconic early career role as the ever-so charming Captain Georg von Trapp, and his seven highly-trained and obedient children *blows whistle*: Gretl, Marta, Brigitta, Kurt, Louisa, Friedrich, and Liesl. I strongly feel that your opinion of this 1965 classic musical relies on if your parents or grandparents exposed it to you as a kid. For me, my father and gma were both strong advocates for the film, where it wasn’t that rare to find us viewing it once a year—usually around winter. I was always surprised how much my dad enjoyed the film, but no occasion more so than when he and my gma went to a sing-along release together. So you can only imagine the excitement the two of them had when they came to visit me when I was studying in Salzburg, Austria. You don’t even have to ask to know we hiked up the Alps to double check if those hills truly were alive with the sound of music. Having lived there for some time before they came to visit, I made sure to establish the ideal tour around lovely—perfect Winter vibe—Salzburg for my family when they came. Whether it be the front of the von Trapp home Schloss Frohnburg, Maria’s Nonnberg Abbey (which doesn’t have that overlooking view of Salzburg like in the film), Erzabtei St. Peter & Friedhof where Maria and the von Trapp family would escape through, and many more locations. Being able to visit the sites of a film you really admire always adds so many more layers to your love for a film. In those regards, The Sound of Music and Christopher Plummer’s von Trapps will always be attached to some very fond memories my family and I have—also through my gma’s crush on the legendary actor. – Lee
Spike Lee’s heist film featured Plummer in a mysterious role. While police try to figure out how to stop a robbery of the Manhattan Trust Bank, various parties find out that the bank’s founder has a history that is not so bright. See, Arthur Case technically isn’t a Nazi. He just helped them out one time, and that got him super rich and probably got a lot of Jews killed. Not fun stuff. Case isn’t evil, per se, but he’s certainly a war profiteer. The whole film is reframed when Case’s history is revealed to the audience, and Plummer’s quiet composed manner becomes all the more frightening when one learns the truth about him. A film already ahead of its time thanks to its displays of police brutality, even in a heist situation, Lee’s film is all the more relevant a decade and a half later thanks to Case’s menacing legacy. – Jen
My first exposure to Christopher Plummer almost certainly came in National Treasure, an early favorite of mine that prompted interest in both film and history. Plummer’s role is brief, lasting mere minutes as he explains the story of the treasure that will drive the plot to his grandson, but he had the sort of gravitas found throughout most of his roles that made his presence memorable. Already old back then, he brought a sense of wisdom and an almost playful seriousness that would also carry him through similar roles in his late career as the seemingly all knowing patriarchs in films like 12 Monkeys, Knives Out, and All the Money in the World. In so many of these, his screen time was brief but his role stood out as one of the most memorable parts of the film. I haven’t seen National Treasure in quite a few years and my recollection of a lot of it seems spotty, but I can guarantee I could recite his opening story almost word for word. Such is the power of Plummer. – Henry