A MAGUS FILMS / HURRICANE FILMS PRODUCTION
ADAPTED FROM THE PLAY 'CHALET' BY RODERICK MANN
A FEATURE FILM
JONATHAN SADLER / ANASTASIA MANN
SCREENPLAY BY: DANIEL GRAHAM
ADAPTED FROM THE PLAY 'CHALET' BY RODERICK MANN
TO BE DIRECTED BY: DANIEL GRAHAM
I've long been fascinated by the golden era of Hollywood and its stars, but especially by the British actors who went across the Atlantic in search of stardom, such as Archibald Leach - soon to become Cary Grant, and David Niven.
Niven especially captured my imagination as a young film enthusiast, seeing him play the titular Pink Panther in the Blake Edwards films starring Peter Sellers, the perfectly debonair Englishman with flawless deadpan timing.
After reading his illuminatingly hilarious and sometimes tragic memoirs - The Moon's A Balloon and Bring on the Empty Horses, plus a biography, 'Niv' by Graham Lord I became keen to develop a film about him, but ideally a drama as opposed to another documentary.
I've also had a longterm fascination with films set in and around skiing. Downhill Racer starring Robert Redford and Gene Hackman is one of my favourite films, as is On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the sixth James Bond film, and I also love the era between the late sixties and mid seventies. So when I discovered that a play existed about Niven and his second wife Hjordis, I just had to find out more!
According to a 2011 Mail Online article, a play had been written about David Niven and his second wife Hjordis, carrying the sensationalist headline: 'Did David Niven plot to murder his wife'?
I simply had to find out more about this play, so I contacted Anastasia Mann, widow of the play's author, Roderick Mann - who was a close friend and confidante of David's...
Plot: A new play suggests that David Niven was considering murdering his wife Hjordis because of her cruelty towards him and her uncontrollable drinking
According to The Mail Online: Another of the star’s close friends, my former Fleet Street colleague, the international showbusiness writer Roderick Mann, who died last year, left behind him a play — entitled Chalet — soon to be staged in London.
It describes, in horrifying detail, the cruelty of Hjördis as Niven slowly wasted away, and exposes their marriage — believed at the time by the public to be a blissful love match — as a monumental sham.
The actress Alexandra Bastedo, a close friend of Mann’s widow Anastasia, describes the play as ‘explosive stuff’. She adds: ‘It will shatter many myths about them both.’
For it seems that Mann suggests in the play that Niven’s life with Hjördis, a chronic and abusive alcoholic, became so miserable that he even thought of having her murdered.
IN THE PLAY THE NIVEN'S ARE PORTRAYED AS DAVID & LAURA ASHTON
DAVID NIVEN - AN ACTOR
HJORDIS NIVEN - HIS WIFE
JENNIFER NIVEN - HIS DAUGHTER
ANDREW SEDDON - A VISITOR
TONY WEST - AN ACTOR
MAX - A FILM PRODUCER
CARY GRANT - AN ACTOR
HELGA - A MAID
KLAUS - A SKI INSTRUCTOR
It’s December 1975, three days before New Year’s Eve and David Niven is planning his comeback role in a new film production, ‘Chalet'. With him at his Swiss winter abode is his rather acerbic wife, former supermodel, Hjordis, and his daughter, Jennifer, who has just befriended a man at the Eagle Club over in nearby Gstaad.
Over for dinner that evening, for a communal serving of fondu, is the film’s producer, Max and an actor pal of the Niven’s, Tony, who is particularly keen to snare a role in the new production, plus Jennifer’s newfound friend, Andrew.
Things start to go pear-shaped when, after the guests have departed, Hjordis sees that Andrew has left his wallet behind, discovering in the process that he is, in fact, a U.K. tax inspector. And what was the main topic of discussion during the evening? Why, David’s recent illegal overstay in the U.K., from where he is a tax exile! Things are looking decidedly iffy for David, and something must be done immediately in order to protect his hard-earned assets!
But someone is clearly pulling the strings, as the plot thickens apace the mounting snow, and the report of a terrible accident on the slopes sends everyone into a frenzy of suspicion. The fiendish plot of the thriller, ‘Chalet’ seems to be playing out in real life! And, as the tensions rise right up to the beams, our ever-genial host artfully steers us all through an entertaining yarn, with just more than a glint in his debonair eye.
Screenplay now available
LOCATIONS / SETTING
The action takes place between Christmas, 1975 and New Year's Eve at a grand chalet in Switzerland
A close friend of Cary Grant, David Niven, Richard Burton, Anthony Hopkins and Grace Kelly, Roddy Mann wrote a hugely popular, syndicated weekly column for the Sunday Express and the Los Angeles Times for 40 years, from the Fifties to the Eighties, one that was read by millions in Britain and America.
He and Cary Grant thought of themselves as brothers, and when Grant died he left all his clothes to Mann. And it was Mann who urged Niven time and again to write his hilarious autobiography, The Moon's a Balloon, even though Niven was lazy and reluctant to do it. When the book was published in 1971 it was so funny, and became such a huge bestseller, that some were convinced Niven could not have written it himself and that Mann had ghosted it for him.
Roddy Mann died on September 17 2010 aged 87, survived by his wife of 25 years, Anastasia Mann, who runs the Corniche travel agency in Los Angeles and who is a producer of Chalet.
RODERICK MANN 10TH DEC 1922 - 17TH SEPT 2010
Australian director Daniel Graham's feature film debut was 'Opus Zero' starring Willem Dafoe in 2017. Earlier in his career he directed short films in Australia and France, worked in film distribution and interviewed many great filmmakers such as Theo Angelopoulos, Bela Tarr, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Alexander Sokurov, Aki Kaurismäki, Claire Denis, Jacques Audiard, Ousmane Sembene, Olivier Assayas and Todd Solondz.
In 2012 he was Line Producer on Carlos Reygadas Cannes winning 'Light After Darkness'. In 2019 he shot his second feature film 'The Obscure Life of the Grand Duke of Corsica' with Timothy Spall and Peter Stormare.
Daniel's latest film as director is Prizefighter: The Life of Jem Belcher, which premiered on Amazon Prime in the USA and UK 22 July 2022 - starring Ray Winstone and Russel Crowe
SCREENWRITER & DIRECTOR
After a short spell in the Merchant Navy as a marine engineer, Sol Papadopoulos began his creative career as a stills photographer working in editorial, fashion and portraiture before moving into film via a 16mm course at the National Film School. He produced and directed a number of social documentaries as a self shooter, collecting numerous awards along the way.
Amongst his factual output, he conceived and directed two landmark series for Granada and PBS America - ‘Warship’ – and the winner of the 2007 CINE Golden Eagle Award – ‘Warplane’. Sol’s work has been commissioned and screened on The BBC, Channel Four, ITV and internationally in the USA on National Geographic Channel and PBS – as well as in over forty other countries.
Jonathan Sadler has spent most of his career in Independent film distribution and marketing, working as a consultant, developer and producer, with senior positions held at Universal Pictures, Momentum Pictures and top independents Revolver Entertainment & Arrow Films.
During this time he oversaw the release of hundreds of films and TV series across every available platform, format and window, from wide to limited theatrical releasing, all the way down to direct to DVD, digital transactional and On-Demand models.
In 2018 Jonathan set up Magus Films to develop and produce features, docs and series and during this time has notched up Executive Producer credits on Everton: Howard's Way & The Long Walk - a three part documentary series for FIFA Films, based on an original idea of his own and is currently also aboard 4 other features in development as well as Chalet.
After graduating summa cum laude from USC, Anastasia Mann was handpicked by Hilton Hotels Corporation to join their sales team as their first female sales executive. Later, she left Hilton to become the Southern California Sales Manager for the new Stanford Court Hotel in San Francisco; thereafter becoming the first female Director of Sales & Marketing for the prestigious Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills for ten years.
Anastasia moved from hotel marketing to become the first U.S. President of Operations for British-based Mark Allan Travel, which became the entertainment division of American Express.
Today CORNICHE Travel is one of the only independent Travel Management companies servicing high profile, domestic and international clients globally in both the corporate and entertainment markets while also providing full leisure travel services as well.
CONTACT JONATHAN SADLER OR SOL PAPADOPOULOS