14 August 2008 | Bunuel1976
IT'S YOUR MOVE (Robert Fiz, 1969) **1/2
This was the last of Edward G. Robinson's caper films of the 1960s, which co-stars Georges Rigaud with whom he had appeared in the similar but more enjoyable GRAND SLAM (1967). Curiously, it proved to be the sole directorial effort by one Robert Fiz; of course, this kind of genre picture usually makes itself, with a surface gloss that is extremely typical of its era though the breezy score is rather irritating this time around. If anything, this particular effort doesn't sustain its initial momentum and bogs down during the second half; besides, the ageing star himself seems to be sleepwalking through his role!
Anyway, the highly improbable plot concerns the kidnapping of four bank employees by one of their most eminent customers (Robinson), to be replaced by exact doubles of them. We're supposed to believe that the old man happens to know three criminal lookalikes of these people but couldn't do the 'job' until he came upon the fourth, the secretary of manager Terry-Thomas (who's pretty much wasted here: incidentally, I have another Italian-made caper to watch in which the gap-toothed British comic is also featured, COLPO GROSSO
ANZI PROBABILE )! The most notable other cast member is Adolfo Celi (whom I watched again soon after in A MAN FOR EMMANUELLE ) appearing in one of the dual roles the bank employee turns out to be teetotaler saddled with a shrewish wife and who's a Communist to boot! The girl, then, is played by lovely Maria Grazia Buccella who's given a couple of unexpected and wholly gratuitous (but, nonetheless, welcome) nude scenes as she's preparing to 'fit' into the character of the bespectacled secretary who's a devotee of pulp thrillers (incidentally, she resists her superior's attentions but when replaced, gladly acquiesces to his attentions for the sake of the robbery!).
The double-crosses and twists come thick and fast but, again, they lack the touch of inspiration the kidnapped employees use the corks of champagne bottles in Robinson's basement to attract the attention of the elderly but stone-deaf female bee-keeper; when they finally escape and go to the police, the latter keep Robinson under house arrest where he engages in periodic chess games with the investigating inspector (the film's original sub-title, in fact, translates to MAD CHECKMATE!); finally, the quartet with the Inspector and Robinson in tow confront Terry-Thomas with their tall tale who, naturally, disbelieves them since he claims the employees were present the previous day (even sillier here is the fact that the doubles/culprits, instructed by Robinson to return the stolen money to the vault so as to put him definitely in the clear with the Law, emerge all-blacked-up from a back-room at that exact moment and nonchalantly exit the bank!).