The Investigation

[Drama/True Crime, 2001]

Les Forsythe

I doubt this movie will ever be a hit in the U.S. The pace is too slow, the good guys don't really win, there's surprisingly little action or violence for a movie about a serial killer. Most of the scenes are set in offices.

However, the movie does have a certain suspense. And the fact that it's based on a true story makes it interesting in a way fiction would not be.

Nick is first billed, but I think it's only because he's the biggest name in the cast. The movie is very much an ensemble effort, following several cops who worked on the case, on different levels and in different jurisdictions. Nick doesn't even show up until half an hour in (probably more like 45 minutes in, once the commercials are added). In fact, if I had to pick a protag out of the pack, I'd say it's Darryll Kettles, a young officer whom we see from the beginning, and who fights desperately, and futilely, to get his superiors to take his suspicions about Clifford Olson seriously.

This is a very different role for Nick, and he does fine with it. It wasn't, I suspect, a very demanding role; the characters take a backseat to the plot in this movie, and except for headstrong young Darryll, all the cops seem interchangeable.

Taken as a docu-drama, THE INVESTIGATION is well done. The subject matter is rather lurid - a serial killer who rapes and murders children - but the depiction tasteful to the point of being dry. And though the movie is essentially about how the investigation was botched, the only villain is Clifford Olson. The police officers, even the ones responsible for letting Olson go free to kill again, are shown as essentially well-meaning men who are simply overwhelmed by the amount of work they have to do. In the eyes of this movie anyway, there was no corruption, no coverup, no ineptitude; Olson simply slipped through cracks of a system that needed a lot more money and a lot more people than it had.

Frame captures from THE INVESTIGATION

RealMedia video file: Les tells Fred they don't have enough evidence to keep Clifford Olson locked up. [4.3 mb]

RealMedia video file: Les confronts Northrop. [2.3 mb]  

Nick has the lead role in this Canadian TV movie, set to film in Calgary and air on CTV sometime during the 2001-2002 season. A British co-production based on the book Where Shadows Linger, it's about how the RCMP bungled the case of notorious serial killer Clifford Olson. (The movie is about the investigation, not really about Olson; you don't even see Olson's face until the very end.)

Nick plays Les Forsythe, a character based on Les Holmes, the ex-Mountie who wrote a book revealing the tragic errors that let Olson kill several more victims before being arrested. The movie is likely to prove controversial, since it pulls some skeletons out of the RCMP closet. It will air sometime in 2002.

More casting info:

Lochlyn Munro as Corporal Darryll Kettles
David Warner as Superintendent Bruce Northorp
Reece Dinsdale as RCMP Investigator Teddy Boulder

From the CTV page:

Movies | CTV Canadian Literature Initiative

Clifford Olson.

His name will go down in infamy.

Coming to CTV this season!

He was Canada's most notorious serial killer and now, "The Investigation" reveals the true and until now, untold story behind the most complex and frustrating manhunt in Canadian criminal history.

From the RCMP's own account, this two-hour special reveals that Olson was considered the principle suspect, and that he could and should have been captured early in his crime spree. But legal red tape, bureaucratic bungling and human ego conspired to thwart their efforts and allowed Olson to continue his rampage of rapes and murders until he was finally arrested and imprisoned.

Based on the book, "Where Shadows Linger" by W. Leslie Holmes & Bruce Northrop, two Mounties involved in the original case, "The Investigation" is a co-production between Muse Entertainment Enterprises and Voice Pictures, produced by Bernard Zukerman, in association with CTV.

Production information from the Alberta Film Network:

The Investigation

Contact Information:
Investigation Productions
4230 Quesnay Wood Dr SW,
Calgary, AB T3E 7K6
T: (403) 668-5703
F: (403) 668-5704

Prep: Aug 9 - Sept 5, 2001
Shoot: Sept 6 - Oct 1, 2001

Casting Director: Lynn Carrow

Production Manager: Nives Lever

Where Shadows Linger Press Release

Les Holmes knew it would not be easy, but he was determined to bring closure to an event that had scarred so many. As this respected ex-Mountie dug into the records of Canada's most horrifying serial killer case to date, he found that shadows still lingered. The culmination of the author's research came when he interviewed an ex-RCMP member who had fingered Olson weeks before his arrest but whose discovery slipped between the cracks of jurisdiction. Five more teenagers died in the meantime.

RCMP Superintendent Bruce Northorp was the office in charge of the Olson hunt at the time of his arrest in 1981. He kept quiet both during and after the horrific affair out of respect for the mourning parents and because of suspicions about the media's hidden agendas. He knew that one day he would have to set the record straight, and in this book he finally speaks out. His full review of the case clearly shows that the RCMP investigation of the Olson affair was plagued by its own internal problems and personalities.

Serial killer Clifford Olson was the most hated man in Canada when he confessed his crimes. Much conjecture surrounds his arrest, and the agreement to pay him $100,000 to take authorities to the locations of his victims led to tension and mistrust within the RCMP. Now Les Holmes' story uncovers the inner thoughts of one of the RCMP's most respected officers and bares the skeletons in the force's closet.

Author W. Leslie Holmes (1936-) joined the RCMP in 1956. He was promoted to Inspector in North Vancouver, BC in 1973. His career involved management over prison riots, hostage incidents, organized crime investigation, regional drug enforcement, and international terrorism. In 1993 Assistant Commissioner Holmes was inducted into the Kainai Chieftainship and made an honorary member of the Metis Nation of Alberta. A proud father and grandfather, Les now lives near Vancouver with wife Violet and their Shih Tzu, Dr. Watson.

Bruce L. Northorp (1927-) started his police career in 1949 with the BC Provincial Police and was absorbed into the RCMP the following year. Spending much of his career in Vancouver-area detachments, he was the division's first intelligence officer and in 1976 headed the newly formed Internal Investigation Unit. promoted to Superintendent, he was assistant officer in charge of the Criminal Investigation Branch at the time of the Olson murders. In addition to being awarded the RCMP's most prestigious bravery award, Bruce Northorp was named to the Order of Canada in 1979.

A Maclean's article that mentions this project

Press release at director Anne Wheeler's site

Anne Wheeler talks about Nick in THE INVESTIGATION

Anne Wheeler talks about THE INVESTIGATION, Part 2

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