Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


James Mason and George Sanders
A TOUCH OF LARCENY (1959). Director: Guy Hamilton.

Sure, it isn't fair to review a film for what you were hoping for instead of what it is, but let's face it: When James Mason and George Sanders, both fine actors and masters of sardonic repartee, are cast in the same movie as gentlemen interested in the same lady, you expect a battle of wits, something sophisticated and amusing. Instead, we get this ... Commander Max Easton (Mason) runs into an old acquaintance, Charles Holland (Sanders), and is immediately smitten with his fiancee, Virginia (Vera Miles). Easton pursues the lady while Holland is out of town, but decides that she must have a man with money. So he concocts a scheme to make it look like he's been accused of treason, disappearing for awhile, and then coming back to sue the papers for libel, thereby gaining lots of cash. What an idiot -- right? Perhaps with a certain kind of bumbling comedian in the role, or an actor with a very light touch like Cary Grant, the character might have been more palatable, but while Mason is certainly not bad, he is horrendously miscast. Sanders' role practically amounts to a bit, as he's only in a couple of scenes, and while his attitude toward Easton is appropriate, he's merely dismissed as being priggish. The film is morally confused, to say the least. Vera Miles [The Wrong Man] is fine, and looks beautiful, but this is a case of three actors who are all way above their fairly wretched material.

Verdict: Even with this cast you should skip it if you can. *1/2.

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