All the Money in the World: What You Need To Know
In 1973, the grandson of oil tycoon J Paul Getty – at that time the world's richest man – was the subject of a high-profile kidnapping at the hands of Calabrian Mafia outfit the 'Ndrangheta. But what made the case even more striking was Getty's refusal to pay the ransom demanded by the kidnappers, who held the 16-year old John Paul Getty III for five months before he was eventually found alive at a petrol station in Potenza.
In December last year a film based on the true story of Getty's kidnapping ordeal, All the Money in the World, made its debut in cinemas and on Monday (May 14th) the film arrives in stores on DVD and Blu-ray. Here's everything you need to know...
Who's in it?
Charlie Plummer stars as kidnapping victim John Paul Getty III, while veteran Canadian actor Christopher Plummer (no relation) tackles the role of J.Paul Getty Sr., having replaced Kevin Spacey at the director's behest in the wake of allegations of sexual abuse levelled at the latter. Starring alongside them are Michelle Williams in the role of the young Getty's mother and Mark Wahlberg as Fletcher Chase, the man employed by the elder Getty to track down his grandson's kidnappers and handle the ransom negotiations.
And who's directing?
Blade Runner and Alien creator Ridley Scott is the man in the director's chair on this one. He works from a screenplay by David Scarpa, who has adapted John Pearson's book Painfully Rich: The Outrageous Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Heirs of J. Paul Getty, on which the film is based.
What's the plot?
The story begins with the kidnapping of the young John Paul Getty III and his captors demanding a ransom of $17 million. By this point, his mother Gail Harris (Williams) has divorced his father John Paul Getty Jr., and while the media initially attacks her for not immediately paying the ransom, it soon becomes clear that the conditions of her divorce settlement have left her far from wealthy. Unable to pay the ransom herself, Gail travels to visit Getty Sr. to implore him to meet the kidnappers' ransom demands, a request that he refuses on the basis that playing the ransom might encourage other kidnapping attempts on his other 14 grandchildren. Instead, Getty instructs one his oil negotiators, a former CIA operative named Fletcher Chace (Wahlberg), to investigate and try to secure his grandson's release.
The kidnappers, meanwhile, who had initially expected the Getty family to swiftly hand over the money, become increasingly concerned that the police are closing in on them and, as the weeks turn into months, begin to face the possibility that Getty may not pay the ransom at all. Deciding to cut their losses, the young Getty is sold on to a new criminal outfit and while the Italian authorities manage to track down the location of their hideout and kill several of the kidnappers, Getty himself has already been moved on. A body is found in a river and mistakenly identified as the young Getty until Gail arrives to identify the body, confirming that it is not her son.
Becoming increasingly desperate, Getty's kidnappers decide to up the ante and cut of one of their victim's ears, posting it to the Getty family with a note threatening to post him back “in pieces” unless their demands are met, but still Getty Sr. refuses to cough up. Eventually, after numerous negotiations with Chace and Gail, both parties eventually agree on a figure of $3 million; Getty Sr. reluctantly agrees to contribute $2.2 million - this being the maximum amount that is tax deductible – and loan the remaining $800,000 to his son, to be paid back at an interest rate of 4%, but only on the condition that Gail signs away her custody rights to all of her children.
Does it deliver?
Christopher Plummer may have been a late inclusion to the cast, but it's hard to imagine Kevin Spacey – or anyone else, for that matter – delivering a better performance as the notoriously frugal oil magnate, even if it's Williams and Wahlberg that carry many of the film's key scenes. Ridley Scott's film tells an already bizarre and fascinating story with style and skill, painting an unflattering portrait of J. Paul Getty in the process, but while it's unlikely to endear audiences to Getty's worldview the film offers a revealing glimpse into the dysfunction at the heart of one of the world's most well-known families.