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A Touch of Larceny (1959)

British Commander Max Easton fakes his defection to the Soviets in order to sue the slandering newspapers for the money he needs to woo a fancy American woman.

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Writers:

(novel) (as Andrew Garve), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Cmdr. Max Easton
...
Sir Charles Holland
...
Virginia Killain
Oliver Johnston ...
Minister
Robert Flemyng ...
Cmdr. John Larkin
William Kendall ...
Tom
Duncan Lamont ...
1st Special Branch man Gregson
...
Capt. Graham
...
Sub Lt. Brown
Rachel Gurney ...
Clara Holland
...
John Holland
Waveney Lee ...
Marcia Holland
Charles Carson ...
Robert Holland
Junia Crawford ...
Susan
Henry B. Longhurst ...
Club Member (as Henry Longhurst)
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Storyline

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. Written by Jeremy Perkins {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

About Money and Women and How To Get 'Em...With a Very Special Touch! See more »

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

|

Language:

|

Release Date:

December 1959 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Hochverrat mit Hindernissen  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The working title for this film was suggested by James Mason himself. He thought of the title "A Touch of Larceny", as stated in his autobiography, "Before I Forget". See more »

Goofs

When Max picks up Virginia for their luncheon date, she tries to put a scarf on her head to keep her hair from blowing around in the wind caused by riding in Max's convertible sports car. However, when Max brings his car to a sudden stop, the wind continues. See more »

Soundtracks

The Nearness of You
Written by Hoagy Carmichael and Ned Washington
Sung by Jimmy Lloyd
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User Reviews

 
Pity a poor wartime hero who needs money.
7 June 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

It is, I believe, the only time that those two silkiest voiced movie villains George Sanders and James Mason appeared together. Both occasionally played good guys (Sanders was Simon Templar, "the Saint", Mason was "Norman Main" in the Judy Garland A STAR IS BORN). Sanders would eventually win a deserved Oscar, but Mason (though repeatedly nominated) tied with fellow Briton Richard Burton for the most nominated actor who never got the Oscar. So they were well balanced, and managed to appear in this satire.

A bit of historical background. In 1955 a mystery occurred at Portsmouth naval base in England. A war hero, naval frogman - Commander Charles "Buster" Crabbe - disappeared while doing a routine dive in the bay. It turned out that a Russian naval craft was visiting Portsmouth (two Russian leaders were meeting the Prime Minister), and it was suspected that Crabbe might have been spying on it. But was he caught? Or did he defect? A body that was decomposed was found later that year, but was it Crabbe's? His fate was never actually settled.

It is this odd mystery that seems to be the germ for this comedy. Wartime hero Mason is in need of cash, as he is trying to beat out wealthy, snobby Sanders in a competition for Vera Miles. He starts noticing the worst aspect of the British press - it's outspokenness in making allegations "in pursuit of truth". He gets an idea. Suppose he acted mildly oddly for a few weeks. He has a highly sensitive military post, and he could (if he wished) give valuable information to the enemy (read the Russians). He might even defect. So he builds up a plausible appearance of approaching the Russians. Then he decides he will disappear while he is supposed to be on vacation. He arranges to disappear to an island, and hide there listening on a radio as the public is fed a diet of his apparent defection and treason. And he slowly realizes his plan is falling into place - he will bring a huge lawsuit against the various media for slander or libel on his reputation. Or will he get away with it, for while he is doing this one person noting his disappearance is suspicious. Sanders knows Mason, and he does not think him a traitor, nor does he trust him.

I won't spoil the end. It is a good comedy and things work out in crazy ways in this mad world. See the film and find out.


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