Duffy is a cunning aristocrat of criminals who is hired by Stefane, a young playboy, to hijack a boat carrying several million dollars of his father's fortune. The plot succeeds, with a ...
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Duffy is a cunning aristocrat of criminals who is hired by Stefane, a young playboy, to hijack a boat carrying several million dollars of his father's fortune. The plot succeeds, with a little help from Segolene, Stefane's girlfriend - but also with an unexpected, sudden turn of events. Written by
This is another flashy caper comedy starring James Coburn which, surprisingly, emerged to be much better than the last one I’d watched only a few days previously i.e. DEAD HEAT ON A MERRY-GO-ROUND (1966). Interestingly, all three male lead actors here are called James (Coburn, Mason and Fox) – recalling the three Roberts (Young, Mitchum and Ryan) of CROSSFIRE (1947)!; for the record, Coburn and Mason would appear together again in THE LAST OF SHEILA (1973) and CROSS OF IRON (1977).
Coburn plays the titular Irish “hipster” (read: rogue/adventurer) engaged by wealthy but ne’er-do-well layabout half-brothers Fox and John Alderton (bearing dopey look and obnoxious laugh) to rob their unloving father (Mason)’s fortune, while it’s being transported by ship. Our hero lives modestly if not exactly inconspicuously – given the artistic bric-a'-brac that clutters his house – in Tangiers, and he even seems very much into the Swinging scene (with resulting slangy dialogue, not to mention a reference to The Beatles’ “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”!). Similarly, the Susannah York character – the only significant female to figure in the narrative – is liberated and carries on simultaneous affairs with both Fox and Coburn (at one point, she and Duffy debate whether such a woman is technically a “slut” or not!).
The film, therefore, promised to be a convoluted and pretentious bore (even more than the afore-mentioned DEAD HEAT in fact) but proved quite an engaging and enjoyable trifle – the belated robbery sequence itself is decently staged, with its trio of robbers donning ugly Halloween-type masks, and there’s an amusing supporting character in the porn-obsessed bank manager in Tangiers! The script (as always in similar outings from this cynical era, the denouement is twist-laden and heavily ironic) was co-written by the ill-fated Donald Cammell – who later that same year would re-team with Fox for the extraordinary PERFORMANCE which, however, didn’t go on general release until 1970; the whole, then, is slickly photographed by the distinguished Otto Heller and has a groovy soundtrack to match.
Robert Parrish – who started out as an actor, then changed track to editor, and finally graduated to director in Hollywood – was probably assigned to this following his stint on the notorious James Bond spoof CASINO ROYALE (1967); DUFFY is as yet unavailable on DVD – but I recently obtained a decent Widescreen DivX copy of it (probably sourced from VHS), which will do just fine.
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