Silver Bears (1977)

Michael Caine, Cybill Shepherd, Louis Jourdan, Stéphane Audran,
Silver Bears is a movie starring Michael Caine, Cybill Shepherd, and Louis Jourdan. Financial wizard "Doc" Fletcher (Sir Michael Caine) is sent by crime boss Joe Fiore (Martin Balsam) to buy a bank in Switzerland in order to more...
  • 6.1 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • Paul Erdman, Peter Stone, Writer:
  • Ivan Passer, Director:
  • Arlene Sellers, Alex Winitsky, Producer:

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8 / 10

Delightful comedy with stellar cast

This is a movie I could easily have missed. It played at a theater I worked at, and was an unusually rare booking in that, as I recall, it actually played for less than a week (talk about filler).

Nevertheless, it really is a gem of a comedy. Years later, working in a video store, I would frequently put it on the store monitor to play, and almost never got through the whole thing, because invariably someone would see a bit of it and then want to rent it.

Contrary to another user's comment, it would be hard to claim that Jay Leno's role is third. He has a good part, but he could hardly be placed ahead of Louis Jourdan or Tom Smothers. Possibly ahead of David Warner.

This is not some people's idea of comedy, as there are no fart jokes or car crashes, but it's a movie you find yourself chuckling at all the way through. A collection of classy comedic performances from the stars and supporting cast members Joss Ackland, Charles Gray, Jeremy Clyde (of Chad & Jeremy fame), and Leno, among others.

Be warned if looking for it on home video, however. Though the first release of it was in SP mode, it was later released in a bargain-bin EP/SLP version, which will of course look like crap. If only someone would put this gem out on DVD.

7 / 10

Good movie, great story

Excellent movie that actually shows how the world of finance and banking works even today, and shows it with a touch of style and intelligent humor. Great cast, lovely story and for me, above all else, very simplified yet precise way of how things actually work in the finance world, even 30 years after the film was made (this is obviously thanks to Paul Erdman who wrote the novel in the first place). It is always interesting to see and recognize someone like Jay Leno in this movie and to actually see him act quite good. Michael Cain is great as always and Cybill is a nice addition as a pretty face. Definitely an easy going must watch movie that is quite intelligent and interesting beyond bombs, car chases and similar stuff..

8 / 10

Not half as bad as they tell you

"Silver Bears" is a great little effort from Czech master, Ivan Passer. It's funny well acted and neatly done comedy caper, that wont let you go until the end. I don't know why it was so badly reviewed when it easily counts among the top 20 comedies of the 70's. Michael Caine is great as usual as Cockney mafioso who in order to make a buck for himself gets a green light from Italian mafioso to start a bank in Switzerland in order to launder some funds, but there's a catch. In fulfilling that mission, without getting himself a brand new pair of cement boots, Caine is greatly helped by Louis Jourdan as sleazy Prince Di Siracusa, and an odd couple of blockheads consisting of Jay Leno in his best role to date, apart from the "Tonight Show", and Tony Mascia as Marvin Skinner. Cybil Shepherd is always great as a decoration, and the movie slides along beautifully with turns on every corner. Passer later proved to be great as a director of many layers, showing his skills most notably in the "Cutter's Way", but here he does it strictly by the numbers. Great fun, catch it if you can, if you like comedies with style, you wont be disappointed.

8 / 10

An almost flawless film.

This is easily one of top 100 favourite films, and having just watched it again last night I felt compelled to finally write a review on it.

The casting is wonderful, the acting is superb, the script is involved but very well thought out and so it makes for an intelligent film, the scenery and camera work are excellent, the dialogue is subtlety written, and the film has a wonderful ending. So what's not to like?

For me this is one of those rare films where scene after scene is memorable, and each for their own reasons. My favourite scene is probably the one where Caine confronts his boss by the pool: the respect the two have for each other is wonderfully portrayed and presented, and Caine's look up to the sky immediately following the encounter shows the stress he was feeling during the confrontation - beautifully written, acted and shot!!

Bad points? Honestly, there ain't many that this reviewer can find. I guess Shephard's character may seem over the top, but she would have charmed me every bit as much as she did Caine, and so his interest in her feels completely authentic.

Another issue for some viewers may be the subtle dialogue and involved plot, but that's always going to be an issue with an intelligent film.

So why would I not give this film a 10 like I would Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, My Fair Lady, Charade, Lord of the Rings, or other classic masterpieces? Because those films all have some magic in them, and that's the one thing that Silver Bears lacks. It is superb in almost every way, but it lacks magic.

To sum up, I regard Silver Bears as a highly underrated film, and if you appreciate great acting and intelligent plots, I reckon you'll really enjoy it.

6 / 10

But factor in the nostalgia and it's a 7.5

Here's the prob. The book's a lot better. Paul Erdman invented the financial thriller with Billion Dollar Sure Thing and followed it up with this story. Inevitably, it's a 70s caper pic without the physical action. Not a great recipe but it works. The leads are OK. Michael Caine isn't given a lot to work with and Jay Leno shows he was right to take another direction. The supporting roles are much better filled. Joss Ackland and Charles Gray both deliver on cue and whoever plays Donald Luckman comes closer than anyone to the book. On the other hand, Cybil Shepherd's Debbie Luckman is nothing like the book. She's better! In the book, Debbie's a frustrated, embittered bitch. And not without reason but here, she's a suburban child escaping her boundaries but never breaking faith with Donald. Donald's going to be locked up and she's not about to abandon him. But Michael Caine's home is awfully close to the jail ...