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In 1970s Athens a group of professional burglars led by Azad plan a daring burglary. The victim is the rich gem merchant Mister Tasco. The treasure to be plundered is Mister Tasco's sumptuous emerald collection. The break-in team neutralize the villa's guard, enter the premises and locate the safe. Their sophisticated safe-cracking tools allow the burglars to break the safe open and steal the emeralds. During the caper a lone Greek policeman notices the burglars' car parked outside the Tasco residence and becomes suspicious. When Azad pretends to tinker with the getaway car's engine the Greek cop pretends he believes him. In fact, the Greek Police inspector Abel Zacharia suspects a burglary is taking place but decides to play along in order to allow the burglars to complete their mission. However, the corrupt Greek cop intends to arrest the criminals later and to steal the emeralds for himself. A cat and mouse chase ensues. Written by
Flirting, fighting, and fender-bending over stolen emeralds...
The first twenty minutes of "The Burglars" concerns a highly complex and detailed home invasion/safe robbery, with four crooks in Greece making off with a million dollars worth of emeralds; unfortunately for them, the chief investigator on the case is playing both sides of the law, and he's onto them from the start. Based on David Goodis' novel "The Burglar", and previously filmed in the U.S. under that title in 1957, this caper has such a meticulously mounted set-up that it's a bit strange to have it change gears almost immediately into a chase-laden cat-and-mouse game (with amusingly derivative elements). Dyan Cannon is used as (very lovely) window-dressing, but the real flirting comes between master thief Jean-Paul Belmondo and crooked cop Omar Sharif (they share a Greek meal together that is so specific, it's hard to believe the intimate tension wasn't unintentional). Some of the action is truly hair-raising, and the film is generally good-natured and well-made, if familiar. **1/2 from ****
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