11 January 2002 | Guy Grand
Serviceable caper for a rainy afternoon
If you enjoy your heist pictures with an excess of fluff and an absence of moral dilemmas, this mid-60's romp is the perfect pillow propper for the weekend.
Stephen Boyd is a handsome, stoic thief who's inevitably drawn back into a life of crime by a former tantalizing flame. Together with her weasly playboy sweetheart, on the run from a pair of Turkish hitmen (one being played by 'Live and Let Die's' down-home sheriff, Clifton James) Boyd's former gal pal and her friend mandate he enlist a team of crack heist men to break into a bank vault in Pamplona.
Did someone say the 'running of the bulls would be a fantastic diversionary tactic?' Well, if you did, then you too can be a heist caper writer! Between the noise of the bulls and the musical gala of the town's festival, our boys figure they'll be well-concealed in their quest to obtain Spain's finest jewels that are supposedly being held in the bank that week. But, of course, there's always complications...
Harold Stine's enriching colors bring this confection a glossy '60s cinematic sheen, and as always, Vic Mizzy has both melodic and comedic elements in his wonderful score.
After "Ben-Hur," Boyd rarely found much of a chance to exude depth in his characters, and this popcorn-light characterization does not allow him much elbow room to emote. Still, he's a commanding enough protagonist to keep our interest. The kittenish Yvette Mimieux is all blonde hair and smiles as his (seemingly) unsuspecting girlfriend. Although she receives second billing, the lovely Ms. Mimieux is only on-screen for less than a third of the picture.
With a wonderful shot of the Rock of Gibraltar and intimate locales around Pamplona, the scenery plays like a nostalgic postcard your folks might have sent you while on vacation to Europe in an earlier era. The inevitable heist twist, a la "Rififi," "The Hot Rock," on up to 2001's "The Score," take place here, yet the ending can easily be discerned. However, if all you seek is an easy-to-digest caper, sans humor and complex ingenuity, by all means, swipe this bull from your neighborhood rental shelf. My rating ** out of ****.