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George At 

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Gambit


The first half hour of the smart, fun 1966 heist flick GAMBIT really threw me for a loop in a good way.

Michael Caine plays Harry Dean, a clever burglar with the ultimate plan for stealing a priceless sculpture out of the heavily guarded apartment of the richest man in the world.

The wealthy man, Ahmad Shahbandar, is played to full comic effect (with hints of danger) by the great Herbert Lom, who was so hilarious as Chief Inspector Dreyfus in the Peter Sellers/Pink Panther films.

Dean enlists a Eurasian dancer Nicole Chang (Shirley MacLaine) as part of his elaborate plan. She's an exact doppleganger for Shahbandar's late, much beloved wife.

The first 30 minutes details Caine recruiting MacLaine for the job and an exciting and suspenseful account of the masterful theft.

BUT...the first 30 minutes isn't what it seems.

About 25 minutes in, I realized that MacLaine hadn't spoken a word. And then, the film takes a fun turn that's best left for you to discover.

As a matter of fact, it's two hours of sheer enjoyment watching Caine and MacLaine work together, both as superb actors and as these characters who find themselves in more than a couple tough situations.

The music score by Maurice Jarre (Lawrence of Arabia, Ghost) is 60's terrific and the screenplay doesn't miss a beat on the way to its unexpected ending. Alvin Sargent wrote the script FIFTY years ago, and it still holds up today. So does Sargent, he wrote "Spiderman 2", "Ordinary People" and "What About Bob?" to name just a few.

Director Ronald Neame (The Poseidon Adventure, The Odessa File) keeps the film moving at a brisk pace. Caine is as good as it gets and MacLaine is impossibly young, beautiful and witty (once she starts talking).

Like the object of their desire, this sixties classic is priceless fun and gets an A.

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