Given Michael Caine’s recent return to form as vigilante pensioner Harry Brown, an elderly ex-serviceman who gets very grumpy with local yobs just like Clint Eastwood did in Gran Torino, here’s a chance to catch one of Britain’s finest veteran actors in one of his more youthful and less serious roles.
In his first Hollywood venture following the success of The Ipcress File and Alfie, Caine plays Harry Dean, a cocky British charmer who hatches an elaborate plot to steal a priceless Chinese antiquity from Herbert Lom’s billionaire, Mr Shahbandar, who is living as a recluse in a remote middle eastern country.
Shirley MacLaine’s Hong Kong nightclub hostess Nicole is a dead ringer for Shahbandar’s late wife, so Harry pays Nicole to take part in his charade. But when Harry’s con comes unstuck, he turns to Nicole to save the day.
Hilarious, entertaining, beautifully shot and very, very clever – Gambit is such fun you can’t help but be riveted to your sofa as Caine’s loveable rogue sees his plans go up in smoke, while MacLaine’s kooky dancer finds herself falling for Harry’s charms. Together, these two stars from either side of the pond are an utter delight. Too bad they wouldn’t appear together again until 2005’s Bewitched.
Gambit is a swiftly acted, fast-past, heist comedy that just gets better with age – and now I know where Blake Edwards got some of his ideas from for The Return of the Pink Panther and where Catherine Zeta-Jones picked up some hints for ‘that’ scene in Entrapment.
Released 30 November