Although perhaps not in the same top-flight league as "Rififi" and"Topkapi," "Gambit" is nevertheless an extremely entertaining heist moviethat features consistently fine performances, an amusing and twistyscript,and good production values. In this one, Caine hires MacLaine, who isworking as a dancehall girl in Hong Kong, to assist him in the purloiningofa priceless piece of sculpture, owned by Herbert Lom. This is not yourtypical heist film, however, and there is a twist right around the firsthalf-hour mark that really had me chuckling out loud...and I'm not an easyperson to make laugh out loud at movies, either. MacLaine plays one of herpatented loveable kooks in this film, and is ever so appealing. Caine, inhis first American production, plays it alternately cool and exasperated.Lom is surprisingly good as Shabhandar, one of the world's wealthiest men;his performance is both urbane and beautifully modulated. Good in smallerparts are two faces that classic "Star Trek" fans will recognize: JohnAbbott (an Organian) as the French art connoisseur, and Roger "Harry Mudd"Carmel as a hotel clerk. The heist itself is fairly suspenseful and, Isuppose, high-tech for its day. Both Caine and MacLaine display surprisingderring-do and quick thinking, and toward the finale of the film, thevieweris treated to at least three unexpected twists of plot. "Gambit," thus,offers good suspense, real wit, some romance, colorful locales, and fineacting. It is a real winner. If you're a fan of the heist movie, this onewill not disappoint. It's good, light, well-done fun, and infinitely moreentertaining than recent, "serious" caper films such as "The Score" and"Heist." Check it out!
I just watched this again, after a period of many years; I think that Imust have seen it in its original release, and it would have seemedwildly glamorous and exotic at the time. Its always been a favorite ofmine; I love it when MacLaine finally opens her mouth and startstalking, and the entire story tilts and veers off in an amusinglydifferent direction.So very many things could have gone wrong with this production, andMacLaine could have completely overwhelmed it. Miraculously, everythingstays in harness and no scenery gets chewed (as opposed to, say,"Topkapi", which although fun goes completely over the top, and whereMercouri lustily devours everything in sight). Caine and MacLaine wereboth in their early 30's at the time, and MacLaine gets away withphotographing much younger. Its one of the earliest of her films whereshe got top billing; she had been making a series of Hollywoodbig-budget bombs, and I suspect that this somewhat modest entry kind ofredeemed her. Its great straight entertainment.
Michael Caine uses flighty Shirley MacLaine to hopefully stealsomething from Herbert Lom--the richest man in the world.That's about all you need to know. This is a fun movie--nothing tooserious about it. It's very colorful with some beautiful settings andoutfits (get the white dress MacLaine wears). The script is sharp andsometimes very funny. MacLaine is full of life and fun in herrole--quite an accomplishment since she has nothing to work with. Caine(a great actor) seems strangely muted in his role. Lom is having a funtime with his part. The comedy mixes very well with the action(MacLaine comes off best) and there are some really neat twists andturns at the end (although I saw the last one coming). This isn't anacting film--just a film to sit back with, turn off your brain andenjoy! Strangely this is pretty unknown--I didn't even now it existedtill it turned up on TV unannounced! Well worth catching.
A brilliantly paced, gripping crime caper, the film has an interestingplot formula, and in general it is quite engaging stuff. Neame's visionof the film involves many close-ups and low camera angles, and thisprovides an enticing visual style. It is often amusing, with cleverideas, clever sets and wonderful costumes. MacLaine is also very goodin an intriguing performance that involves her being silent for thefirst 25 minutes. So, what can one say against this film? It is a bitsilly, a tad overlong, somewhat predictable, and not very deep, but assimple entertainment you cannot find many films better than this. Ifound it a joy to watch, and Neame's crafting as director can beadmired too. It is a great film, even if not a masterpiece, although,for its genre, it could possibly be regarded as a masterpiece.
MICHAEL CAINE was hot after appearing in THE IPCRESS FILE and SHIRLEYMacLAINE grabbed him for her leading man in GAMBIT. It's a highlyentertaining and very clever crime caper and is Caine's first American film.It benefits from highly polished production values and Ronald Neame's expertdirection, not to mention a story that has several unexpectedtwists.Aside from excellent performances by the two stars and Herbert Lom as theintended victim, the plot will keep you guessing until the final moments.Shirley is a knockout in her oriental disguise and delivers a wonderfulperformance as the girl who discovers she prefers an honest man to a thief,no matter how much she let herself be tricked into the role of a charminglook-alike for Herbert Lom's former wife. The trick is to get into hislavish digs so she and Michael can see the layout and devise a plan to steala prized sculpture. Herbert Lom is urbane and sophisticated as a man who ishighly suspicious of his new acquaintances.If you like crime capers or jewel heists, this is for you. Diverting fromstart to finish with a particularly good opening sequence that sort of setsyou up for a different kind of film than this actually is. But saying morethan that would give too much away.My only complaint--Maurice Jarre's score is a skimpy one. He provides somelight and catchy melodies for the lighter scenes but fails to deliver thegoods for the film's darker moments. Maybe he figured the audience wouldjust be holding their breath while silence accompanied the cat-like burglarapproach rather than music. Whatever, the darker moments would have beenheightened by a more suspenseful score.John Abbott is seen to advantage as a French sculptor devoted to hisart.