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The Thief Who Came to Dinner

Fresh off writing the screenplay for the 1972 McQueen/McGraw hit “The Getaway”, Walter Hill crafted another clever 1973 caper, THE THIEF WHO CAME TO DINNER.

Loaded with suspense, humor, and clever plot twists, it will put a non-stop smile on your face.

Ryan O’Neal stars as Webster, a bored computer engineer who leaves his humdrum job to take up a career as a jewel thief. Like TV’s Dexter, he only steals from corrupt & wealthy people, calling himself an honest thief.

The film gets even better when he confides in failing socialite Laura Keaton, perfectly played by Jacqueline Bisset in all her 1970’s glory. Mining Keaton’s contacts, Webster soon has a large list of targets. He adopts the mantra of the Chess Burglar, leaving behind a note and a chess piece in place of diamonds.

The great Warren Oates is at his best as Dave Reilly, an insurance investigator positive that Webster is the Chess Burglar. Oates and O’Neal navigate an enjoyable game of cat and mouse for the second half of the film, staying one step ahead of each other all the way to a perfect ending.

Director Bud Yorkin, a veteran of Norman Lear’s classic TV comedies, keeps everything loose and fast, peppering the supporting cast with first class actors like Jill Clayburgh (Starting Over), Ned Beatty (Deliverance) and the hilarious Austin Pendleton (What’s Up Doc?) as an exasperated chess expert confounded by Webster’s moves.

Henry Mancini provides a perfect film score, and Philip Lathrop (The Pink Panther) shoots the entire movie like some strange blend of an Altman movie and a Bond thriller. It works.

A throwback to an era where character development was given equal weight to action scenes (the direct opposite of any Michael Bay film), THE THIEF WHO CAME TO DINNER is a blast. Bisset, O’Neal and Oates deliver a solid A.

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