Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Grand larceny

Philandering Commander Max Easton, now desk-bound and under-worked in the Admiralty, finds he suddenly needs to make some money when he falls for American Virginia Killain. When he hatches a plot to disappear in circumstances that suggest he has defected and then return to sue the papers, Virginia doesn't take much notice - at least at first.

How nice to discover a pleasant comedy that takes 3 players one likes and gives them a decent script and amusing situations. A TOUCH OF LARCENY is an amusing souffle that got rather lost among that great year 1959's big hitters.  James Mason, Vera Miles and George Sanders had been toiling throughout the 50s and earlier, often in routine movies, so nice to see them having fun here, Vera gets glammed up too as the ritzy American both the men are trying to catch. Sanders is the pompous bore she is engaged to but Mason is not rich enough to keep her in the luxury she is used to, so he hatches up a plot to be seen to disappear from his sensitive job in security, while he lies low on a remote Scottish island and can then return to sue the papers for suggesting he has defected to "the other side" (this was still the cold war era...).  How this plays out is amusingly done in Guy Hamilton's nifty comedy with some good supporting players too: dependables Harry Andrews, Robert Flemyng, Duncan Lamont and little Martin Stephens.

These were the stars' busy years, going from film to film, doing several a year. Mason still had Kubrick's LOLITA ahead and that good career of supporting roles as the '60s progressed, Sanders kept working too and Vera was soon back with John Ford in THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE. Now retired in her 80s she keeps silent on that long career but her 2 for both Ford and Hitchcock will always be in circulation - she was of course under contract to Hitch (the only actress who was, apart from Tippi Hedren) who was grooming her for VERTIGO but she famously got pregnant (and by Tarzan, no less - her husband Gordon Scott!), Hitch though put her in the smaller role of Marion Crane's sister Lila in PSYCHO in 1960, where she wears that unsuitable wig as her hair had not grown back from being shorn in that De Laurentiis war film FIVE BRANDED WOMEN (Silvana Mangano label). She was of course out west numerous times (not least in THE SEARCHERS, Westerns label) so good to see her ramping up the glamour here, while those two sardonic gents James and George relished having a decent script to play with.
There is a lot on James Mason here, including on the time I saw him at the London BFI NFT in the 70s, see label - I particularly rate his A STAR IS BORN, PANDORA & THE FLYING DUTCHMAN, NORTH BY NORTHWEST. I grew up on George's '50s costumers in KING RICHARD & THE CRUSADERS, MOONFLEET, THE KING'S THIEF, SOLOMON & SHEBA, and THAT KIND OF WOMAN, I CAN GET IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE, CALL ME MADAM, JUPITER'S DARLING etc, not to mention ALL ABOUT EVE and his '40s cad in SON OF FURY, among so many others, before his suicide in 1972. Soon: George and that eclectic cast in Huston's THE KREMLIN LETTER, 1969.
George with Sophia, left - and with Gina as Sheba, right.

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