Monday, November 24, 2014

A FINE PAIR


I took a chance on A FINE PAIR (1968) (when it showed up on TCM a few days ago) based solely on two things. The first was the film's description which read something like " a New York City police officer is blackmailed into helping a sexy cat burglar pull off a jewel heist". The second was the fact that said "sexy cat burglar" was played by the one and only Claudia Cardinale. The beautiful Italian actress has always been a favorite of mine and I figured anything with her in it was worth a look.

A FINE PAIR is an Italian film, directed by Francesco Maselli with a score by the legendary Ennio Morricone. The beginning of the film takes place in New York City and it's odd to see an American city in a foreign made film. The action quickly moves to Continental Europe where the rest of the film takes place. But the cinematography is grainy and murky throughout and everyone's dialogue appears to have been looped in during post-production. As a result, A FINE PAIR, lacks the polish and slickness that other Hollywood produced romantic comedy caper films such as CHARADE had.

But it's not a bad little film at all. Rock Hudson is the NYC police captain who is pulled in by Claudia Cardinale, a young woman he's known since she was a child. He's friends with her family, a large Italian clan in which all of the men are police officers. Cardinale comes to New York and seeks Hudson's help. She tells him that a "friend" has stolen some jewels from the home of a wealthy couple who are on a cruise. She convinces him to help her replace the stolen loot before the owners return and discover them missing. Hudson agrees and they're off to the German Alps to figure out how to break into a virtually impenetrable fortress like house.

Hudson comes up with an ingenious way to defeat the state-of-the-art (for 1968) security system and while he's replacing the jewels (fake, of course), Cardinale steals the real ones. Afterwards, Hudson is turned on by his new life of crime and wants to accompany Cardinale on her next caper. But she wants to go straight. Or does she? The two fight and split up and it's a game of who's conning who before they're finally reunited at the end.

A FINE PAIR is light weight, breezy and fun. It's no masterpiece but I enjoyed watching it. Heck, I'd watch Claudia Cardinale read the phone book.


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