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

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Robert Wagner steals a kiss
IT TAKES A THIEF Season One. 1968.

The telefilm Magnificent Thief served as the pilot for this nominal spy series, which had a clever premise. Alexander Mundy (Robert Wagner), a gifted burglar, is told that he can stay out of jail if he goes to work for the government, herein personified by his liaison Noah Bain (Malachi Throne). As Bain tells him, "I don't want you to spy -- I want you to steal." So in the first brief season of sixteen episodes -- It Takes a Thief was a mid-season replacement -- Mundy has to snatch, under frequently impossible circumstances, everything from children accidentally left behind the iron curtain when their parents defect to a rare, extremely valuable DaVinci. None of the episodes are outstanding, but a few were better than average. "It Takes One to Know One" introduces a rival thief-impersonator played by Susan St. James (who'd show up again) and has a highly suspenseful climax when the two each try to snatch some royal jewels in a casino packed with booby traps. "One Illegal Angel" features an exiled dictator and a forged DaVinci and the necessity of getting the real painting away from said dictator. "Totally By Design" features a notable Mari Blanchard [Twice-Told Tales] as a vain princess who has fashion designer Mundy create a new trousseau for her even as he schemes to rob the palace safe. Celeste Yarnell and Marti Stevens guest-star in "Locked in the Cradle of the Keep," in which Al has to figure out just what he's supposed to steal before he can actually steal it. The show needed some better directors and better scripts, but it was basically mindless fun. Katharine Crawford [Kraft Suspense Theatre] appeared twice as another government agent. Wagner gets across his slightly amoral character without straining himself, and Throne is just fine as Noah Bain. In any case, the series is much better than the telefilm that spawned it.

Verdict: Acceptable time-waster. **1/2.

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