#274 Gambit

Watched: August 5 2020

Director: Ronald Neame

Starring: Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine, Herbert Lom

Year: 1966

Runtime: 1h 49min

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Hong Kong. Harry Dean (Caine) approaches nightclub dancer Nicole Chang (MacLaine) with an offer she cannot refuse.

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Who wouldn’t accept $5000 to stand around, say nothing and be alluring for a night? In fact, you can contact us at 1000filmsblog@gmail.com for available days…

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Harry has it all figured out. He will distract the incredibly rich Shahbandar (Lom) with Nicole’s uncanny resemblance to his dead wife. While Shahbandar focuses all his energy on Nicole, Harry will be free to case his apartment and later on steal a valuable bust. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

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…or is that Easy peasy racist squeezy?

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Naturally, everything goes according to plan, both Nicole and Shahbandar play into Harry’s schemes perfectly, none of them has any ideas or agency of their own, and it’s all smooth sailing. It’s a very short film.

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“Look, lady, I didn’t hire you to smile. Or speak. Or be human. Why can’t you just stand around all silent and mysterious and do as you’re told like the woman in my dream heist???”

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You know it’s going to be a good movie when the opening credits include “gowns designed by” and “hairstyles designed by.” At least visually. And Gambit delivers in every way.

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“Just throw in some tinsel and that old Dracula cape we found lying around. Fashion!”

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We loved the contrast between the dream heist and the reality, how much Nicole saves Harry’s ass throughout the movie (he really should have prepared better!), and everything Shirley MacLaine.

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“Now that I’ve got my hands on the prize I will stare wistfully into the distance and think deep thoughts about life, love, priorities and such.”

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This is a very fun, engaging and exciting heist comedy, with some screwball elements and wonderful actors. We were thoroughly entertained!

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Just try to ignore the unfortunate brown-face and cultural appropriation. It’s of its time.

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What we learned: People never behave the way you plan. And some people are worth more than money.

Next time: Kill Baby, Kill! (1966)