Picture above:  Original MGM Promotional Still – Ian Hendry + Nicol Williamson – The Jersusalem File (1972)

The Jerusalem File (1972) – Rare Film Rediscovered

The Jerusalem File (1972) is a very difficult film to find…and that’s coming from the mouth of the director John Flynn when interviewed by Harvey F. Chartrand for Shock Cinema (2005).

Fortunately, with the help of Gabriel Hershman, we have managed to locate a copy of the complete film (albeit with Finnish subtitles!). We’ve included a couple of the key scenes from the film in this post – which feature Ian Hendry – but If you want to download the full film, you can do so from the link below:

Download (Secure Dropbox File) > The Jerusalem File (1972)

In his biography on Ian Hendry, Gabriel Hershman mentions several great anecdotes about this film, including the evening Nicol Williamson became more than a little worse for drink, and tried to throw fellow guest Bob Dylan off a balcony!

Set in the months following the 6-day-war this is the story of an attempt by young Israelis and Arabs to meet for a free political discussion. Interwoven are a love story, intrigue, strife and killings.

Video: The Jerusalem File (1972) Scene #1 | Donald Pleasence, Ian Hendry, Nicol Wiliamson + Bruce Davison

The Jerusalem File (1972) Donald Pleasance

Picture above: The Jerusalem File (1972) – Donald Pleasence

New York Times Review

‘The Jerusalem File’ Arrives

By A.H. Weiler – Published: February 3, 1972
The dedication of idealistic Israeli and Arab youth to achieve understanding and stop internecine strife in the Holy Land after the six-day war is merely indicated melodramatically in “The Jerusalem File,” which opened yesterday at the R.K.O. 59th Street Twin Theater.

The importance of the issues and the character of its principals are, sadly enough, only shadowy footnotes to the sporadic shootings and Raoul Coutard’s color photography of teeming Jerusalem and the sun-drenched, arid archeological digs where it was shot with the vivid authenticity he captured in “Z” and some of the Godard films.

“The Jerusalem File” is a manhunt, essentially, despite Troy Kennedy Martin’s script, which bristles with implications but cries for fuller explanations and John Flynn’s energetic direction. Involved are Bruce Davison, as a seemingly apolitical American archeology student caught in the literal and political crossfire; Zeev Revah, once his classmate at Yale and now an Arab leader on the run from rival, dissident Arab terrorists, and Donald Pleasence, as an Israeli itelligence officer trailing Revah and Davison in order to end the clashes.

There also are Nicol Williamson, as a dourly realistic archeology professor anxious to achieve peace among the embattled; Daria Halprin, as a curvaceous Israeli student-activist amorously torn between Williamson and Davison, and Koya Yair Rubin, as the Israeli student-militant leader seeking a clandestine meeting with Revah through Davison, in order to settle all the unpleasantness.

Aside from their seriousness of purpose, they are largely two-dimensional characters, with the exception of Donald Pleasence, who emerges as a convincingly human, if implacable, sleuth. A basic weakness of “The Jerusalem File” is perhaps underlined best by Mr. Williamson, when he snaps, “You’re playing at politics and you’re no good at it.”

The politics, the disparate motivations and the implicit drama of youth defeated by a world they don’t want are only vaguely projected and are secondary to the chase and shoot-em-up action of “The Jerusalem File.”

The Cast

THE JERUSALEM FILE, directed by John Flynn; screenplay by Troy Kennedy Martin; director of photography, Raoul Coutard; editor, Norman Wanstall; music by John Scott; produced by Ram Ben Efraim; released by Metro-Gold-wyn-Mayer. At the R.K.O. 59th Street East Twin I Theater, east of Third Avenue. Running time: 96 minutes. (The Motion Picture Association of America’s Production Code and Rating Administration classifies this film: “GP—all ages admitted, parental guidance suggested.”)

David . . . . . Bruce Davison
Lang . . . . . Nicol Williamson
Nurit . . . . . Daria Halprin
Samuels . . . . . Donald Pleasence
Mayers . . . . . Ian Hendry
Barak . . . . . Koya Yair Rubin
Raschid . . . . . Zeev Revah
Herzen . . . . . David Smader
Allouli . . . . . Jack Cohen

Source: New York Times

Video: The Jerusalem File (1972) Scene #2 | Ian Hendry, Nicol Wiliamson + Daria Halprin

The Jerusalem File (1972) Bruce Davison

Picture above: The Jerusalem File (1972) – Bruce Davison

The Jerusalem File (1972) Daria Halprin

Picture above: The Jerusalem File (1972) – Daria Halprin

John Flynn – Director

John Flynn Director

Picture above: John Flynn – Director (undated)

The following extract from a lengthy article and interview first appeared in Shock Cinema in 2005 and is reproduced on the Foco Website

John Flynn – Out Of Action
Article and interview by Harvey F. Chartrand (Shock Cinema nº 29, fall 2005, pp. 26-29+46)

Veteran director John Flynn is known for his taut, economical and well-scripted action pictures. He is certainly one of the most underrated directors in crime cinema today.

A protégé of Hollywood legends Robert Wise and J. Lee Thompson, Flynn learned his craft well by observing these masters at work, before tackling his first solo directing assignment in 1967 – The Sergeant, in which Rod Steiger gave an anguished performance as a macho Army sergeant who is horrified by his own feelings of attraction to another man (John Phillip Law). Sadly, this dark and courageous drama has yet to be released on VHS, let alone DVD!

Flynn’s second film, the suspense story The Jerusalem File (1972), is equally obscure. Perhaps for political reasons, this exotic thriller about an idealistic American archaeology student (Bruce Davison) caught in the Arab-Israeli crossfire, is rarely seen on TV. Nor has The Jerusalem File been issued on VHS or DVD, despite the presence in supporting roles of Nicol Williamson, Donald Pleasence and Ian Hendry. (Zabriskie Point’s Daria Halprin also appears here in her final film role.) Set in the Holy City after the Six Day War, the film is one of the few Hollywood productions to have been shot entirely on location in and around Jerusalem.

Flynn went on to direct 15 more pictures, including the hardboiled The Outfit (1973), praised as one of the best films based on a Richard Stark “Parker novel” by the author himself, and the grim revenge saga Rolling Thunder (1977), which so impressed the young director Quentin Tarantino that he named his short-lived film release company (Rolling Thunder Pictures) after it. Rolling Thunder also made Tarantino’s list of his top 25 favorite movies.

Since 1990, Flynn has kept busy making excellent low-budgeters for U.S. cable networks or the direct-to-video market. His last film to date is 2001’s Protection, a witness relocation drama with a twist, starring Stephen Baldwin, Peter Gallagher and a cast of Canadian supporting players.

According to film writer Matthew Wilder, John Flynn could give today’s neo-noir directors seminars in the beauties of haiku-like plainspokenness. Shock Cinema agrees

SC: In the early seventies, you spent seven months in Israel preparing and filming the suspense story The Jerusalem File. What is your most vivid recollection from this shoot in the Holy Lands?

JF: I met writer Troy Kennedy Martin (The Italian Job, Kelly’s Heroes) and we became pals. He rewrote a bad script called The Jerusalem File, making it quite good. I signed on to direct the picture, because I loved the script and it was a chance to return to Israel for a few months. I stayed at the American Colony Hotel in east Jerusalem, further refining the script while waiting for the production money to come in. All the foreign journalists congregated in the bar of that hotel. So I’d be sitting there in that cavern, as they called it, with all these gentlemen of the press, getting the inside dope on what was really happening in Israel.

John Flynn (March 14, 1932 – April 4, 2007) – read more in Wikipedia

Ian Hendry The Jerusalem File - 1971

Picture above: The Jerusalem File (1972) – Ian Hendry

Until next time,

Neil Hendry
Editor, Official Website of Ian Hendry

Further Reading

A detailed account of the life and work of Ian Hendry in the new biography:

Read:  ‘Send in the Clowns – The Yo Yo Life Of Ian Hendry’ by Gabriel Hershman

Send In The Clowns - The Yo Yo Life of Ian Hendry

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