In London, stuffy statesman Carter Harrison meets Toni, a Bohemian artist with a hot Italian temper. The two impulsively marry and then find that they disagree on everything. Shortly ... See full summary »
New York tourist Tony Curtis falls asleep on a Southern California beach on his first night in the West and wakes up to The New Phantasmagoria--catamarans, surfers (including a dog), ... See full summary »
There's murder at a California high school, where female students are being targeted by an unknown serial killer, a married teacher hides his flings with nubile students, and an awkward ... See full summary »
Rock Hudson plays an Air Force Colonel who has just been re-assigned as a cold war B-52 commander who must shape up his men to pass a grueling inspection that the previous commander had ... See full summary »
Dot Burton (Faye Emerson)has acted as a decoy in a bank robbery and fails to get away. Her arrest attracts the attention of Ken Phillips (Frank Wilcox), a former childhood sweetheart who ... See full summary »
In 1931, Elizabeth Rambeau comes from England to live in California with her aunt and uncle of a winemaking dynasty, who are still wealthy despite 12 years of Prohibition. Object: marriage ... See full summary »
Circa 1900, runaway boy Nugget arrives in an Oklahoma boom town to find his brother...who's a dealer in the casino section of a palatial bawdy house, and lover of the madam, Tacey Cromwell.... See full summary »
Fugitive Lee Leslie is wanted by three groups; the police, the gangsters who fear his testimony in court and the insurance company that carries a $1,000,000 policy on him and is anxious to ... See full summary »
Terry O. Morse
Eddie Foy Jr.
Victor Shanley had once been New York City's most-acclaimed crime-fighting, crusading District Attorney and the scourge of the underworld. But the workaholic demands of the job led him to ... See full summary »
Married NYPD Captain Mike Harmon receives a visit from Esmeralda Marini, who he has not seen in twelve years since she was a child. She is the daughter of an old police colleague from Italy, Inspector Marini who is now deceased. Mike recalls those six months in Italy as the happiest in his life. She has come to New York to ask specifically for Mike's help, her father telling her always to trust Mike if she's in trouble. She finally admits to him that she is a jewel thief, but that she wants to turn over a new leaf by returning the jewels she and a well known criminal named Jackie Mitchell stole from the safe of the villa of wealthy and famous Ogden Fairchild in Kitzbühel, Austria. Since the Fairchilds are not in Kitzbühel at the moment, they do not even know that the jewels are yet missing. So Mike figures if they can break into the villa and replace the jewels in the safe before the Fairchilds return to Kitzbühel, Esmeralda will not have to face prosecution. But breaking in the ... Written by
When the officer who has just dropped off Hudson's lady friend arrives, his patrol car has "23rd Precinct" painted on the side. Yet when patrolman himself exits car, his collar brass clearly says "12th Pct." See more »
Charming caper comedy with lively score and delightful Claudia
Sometime in 1969, I saw trailers for a double bill coming to neighborhood theaters consisting of A FINE PAIR and CHARRO, a western starring Elvis Presley. I eventually saw CHARRO in a theater, but with a different co-feature, so I had to wait a few years before I caught up with A FINE PAIR on television. I watched it again recently because I had a hankering to hear its light, jaunty, melodic Ennio Morricone score again, a refreshing change of pace from the composer's heavier (but richer) score for ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, which I re-watched a week ago and which, like A FINE PAIR, opened in New York in May 1969. Both starred Claudia Cardinale, but only A FINE PAIR uses the actress's actual voice in the English dubbing. This film is clearly not afraid of her accent.
I enjoyed A FINE PAIR. It's not the most intricate caper film I've ever seen, nor the most comprehensible. It could have used a more stylish director (think what Mario Bava, of DANGER: DIABOLIK fame, could have done with it). Still, I was quite smitten with Claudia's free-spirited character. She smiles a lot, is open and gregarious, and her joy is quite infectious. Rock Hudson plays a by-the-book police captain in horn-rimmed glasses and trenchcoat who gradually falls under her spell, changing his wardrobe and his manner (and his moral code) as he eventually goes along with her schemes. It's a very different style of performance for Mr. Hudson, who was working well outside the comfort zone of Universal Pictures, the studio where he'd been treated as royalty for most of the 1950s and '60s. He's on location for most of this film and far from the amenities he was used to at Universal City. He has a befuddled look much of the time, which certainly suits his character here.
The burgeoning romance between Hudson and Cardinale (who were born about 13 years apart) is given some resonance by the inclusion of a segment of b&w home movie footage where a younger version of Cardinale's character (played by a teenage actress) is filmed on a family outing with her father and Hudson, a friend of the father, and is seen cavorting playfully with Hudson in the throes of an adolescent crush straddling the precarious borderline between innocent and flirtatious.
I was won over early on by a location scene in Manhattan where Hudson and Cardinale have a key meet-up outside the old Commodore Hotel, which once hosted Star Trek conventions that I attended. (The hotel site on 42nd Street and Lexington Avenue is now occupied by the Grand Hyatt.) It seems to have been very cold when they shot the scene, with their breath quite visible. Neither actor is wearing a hat or scarf. And then, instead of suggesting they go inside the warm hotel to talk, they opt to take a walk along Park Avenue to enact their scene. We can see for ourselves the kind of discomfort that even two top stars of the era were likely to experience when they signed on to do a low-budget Italian genre film.
Later on, they show up at Central Park on Fifth Avenue and Hudson is compelled to kick somebody out of a phone booth at the entrance to the park. "Police business," he barks at the hapless caller, before entering the booth to make a key phone call to determine how much time he has to help Cardinale return some valuable jewels to the Austrian estate she stole them from. Now, I've been going to Central Park for decades and I don't recall ever seeing a phone booth anywhere on Fifth Avenue along the park. Sure, the filmmakers could have moved the action to a site nearby that would have been a more likely spot for a phone booth but then I wouldn't have been able to enjoy this glimpse of the park as it looked 44 years ago, roughly the time I began my regular visits there. Kudos to the production designer for exercising dramatic license and providing one of the many small pleasures this film has to offer. The larger pleasures are, of course, Cardinale's performance and Morricone's score. Do we need to ask for more?
Tony Lo Bianco (THE SEVEN-UPS) has a small role as McCluskey, a cop working under Hudson in New York. Tomas Milian, a mainstay of Italian westerns at the time (e.g. THE BIG GUNDOWN), has an amusing cameo as an anarchist friend and sometime lover of Cardinale. The film was a byproduct of its peculiar historical moment, offering a hazy snapshot of its era, and would not have been made in quite this form at any other time. Enjoy it as the time capsule it remains.
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