Roger Ebert in Chicago Sun-Times: August 24, 1992

"Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" makes a voyage of its own, back through time to the 1930s and 1940s, when costume dramas were made with energy and style. Something seems to have gotten lost in the years between. This movie takes one of history's great stories and treats it in such a lackluster manner that Columbus' voyage seems as endless to us as it did to his crew.
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~~

Grann-Bach from Denmark

… This flick is simply put one of the best arguments for why you should not base viewing choices upon the cast alone. There are *amazing* actors in this, and they are utterly wasted.

Full review
Christopher Columbus Christopher Columbus (3)

King Ferdinand (Tom Selleck) and Queen Isabella (Rachel Ward) receive Cristobal Colon and hear his request for
their support for his plan to reach the Indies by a westerly route.

Christopher Columbus (6) Christopher Columbus (7)

Meanwhile, the Inquisitor’s Spy (Michael Gothard) lurks in the background, taking mental note of what is said.
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John Glen’s “Christopher Columbus: The Discovery” was one of two films about Columbus to be released in the same year, the other being Ridley Scott’s “1492: Conquest of Paradise.” In Glen’s film, Michael Gothard was cast as the Inquisitor’s spy, his scenes apparently being filmed in the UK and Spain.

Michael had worked for the film’s producers, Alexander and Ilya Salkind on “The Three/Four Musketeers” (1973), and John Glen had directed him as the villain, Emile Locque in “For Your Eyes Only” (1981).

In correspondence, John Glen had this to say:

‘I cast Michael Gothard in "For Your Eyes Only" and he contributed many ideas on this, my first effort as a Bond director … I remember him as a very pleasant person as well as a fine actor …

When Marlon Brando was cast in "Christopher Columbus: The Discovery" I decided I would need a back up in the event Marlon decided not to turn up on the set. I thought of Michael to play his assistant. He would take Marlon's lines and I would shoot in such a way that I could isolate him and continue to shoot the scene with the other actors.

In fact, this happened on day one, much to Tom Selleck's displeasure. Fortunately Marlon decided to turn up on day 2 and I was able to complete the scene. Marlon was a very nice man and I think Tom Selleck's disappointment prompted him to co-operate ... or perhaps it was the thought of losing his lines to Michael Gothard. In any event it worked.

I was shocked to hear of Michael's untimely death.’

There is further detail on this incident in “From Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Brando, Hopper, Beatty, and Nicholson,” by Robert Sellers.

“When Glen began shooting Marlon's scenes there was an immediate problem. The great man didn't turn up. ‘I was anticipating trouble. When you're a director you have to box a little clever sometimes and I'd cast a very good actor called Michael Gothard as Brando's assistant, the idea being that if Marlon didn't turn up any time I would put Gothard in. And sure enough, on the first day, Marlon was a no-show, so I put Michael in and he took Marlon's lines.'

Marlon's invisibility on the set that first day caused ructions amongst the cast, notably with Tom Selleck, who approached Glen that evening.

'John,' he said, 'I admire your work, but really the only reason I did this film was because Marlon Brando was going to be in it. Now he's not turned up and he's not gonna play the thing, I'm not going to do it anymore, I'm off.'

A bit taken aback, Glen replied, 'I appreciate your honesty, Tom, and wish you all the best.' Obviously word filtered back to Marlon that Selleck had walked out and that another actor was delivering his dialogue. 'Because Brando turned up the next day,' says Glen. 'Actors being actors, they hate to lose their lines, and I just re-shot that section. Naturally Tom Selleck re-appeared, too.'"

The film had various release dates in 1992: 20 August in Germany, 21 August in the USA, and 11 September in the UK.

The reviews for “Christopher Columbus: The Discovery” were less than complimentary. One can only hope that Michael Gothard took some comfort in the fact that the critics’ scathing comments were reserved for Marlon Brando, Tom Selleck, George Corraface and Director, John Glen.

As Brando received the worst notices, it seems a shame that Gothard wasn’t given all his lines, but then, Brando was supposed to be the star.

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