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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
Belmondo versus Shariff in a thrilling film plenty of action , intrigue and car races
¨The burglars¨ is a good French movie about hold-up with top-notch actors . Azad (Jean-Paul Belmondo) is a delinquent who along with a motley group (Robert Hossein , Renato Salvatori and his girlfriend played by Nicole Calfan) plans a robbing . Azad pretends the perfect robbery recruiting his expert accomplices but a Police Inspector named Amed Zacharia (Omar Shariff) tracks down on them . The hold-up is carefully schemed on the Tasco(Jose Luis Villalonga)'s home .The morning after newspapers publicize ¨Tasco robbed of 1.000.000 in emeralds¨. Meanwhile Azad falls in love with a gorgeous woman (Dyan Cannon). But the bad luck and the corrupt Zacharia does the crime gone awry.
This heist movie packs thrills, emotion, exciting burglary, extraordinary performances , spectacular car chases, and a moving finale . Sensational acting by two big star names, Jean Paul Belmondo and Omar Shariff. Belmondo steals the show , as he runs , bound and leaps ; such as Jackie Chan , he jumps over buses , cars and makes his own stunts . Strong secondary cast as Robert Hossein , Renato Salvatori , Jose Luis Villalonga , among others. Interesting and thrilling screenplay based on a novel by David Goodis , whose books have been frequently adapted on cinema as ¨Street of no return, Shoot the piano player and Dark passage¨ . Atmospheric cinematography by Claude Renoir , though is necessary an urgent remastering . Nice musical score with catching leitmotif composed by the maestro Ennio Morricone and conducted by Bruno Nicolai.
The picture is professionally directed by Henry Verneuil, a Turkish director working in France from the 40s. Although not a director of great reputation among the critics, his movies have almost all been aimed squarely at the commercial market. Verneuil is an expert on heist-genre such as he proved in ¨The Sicilians clan(68)¨ and ¨Melodie in soul soul¨, both of them with with Jean Gabin and Alain Delon, furthermore on Warlike genre : ¨Weekend at Dunkirk¨and ¨The 25th hour¨and even directed one Western : Guns of San Sebastian(68)¨. He seemed to have dropped out of the film-making after 1976, but in 1981 unexpectedly reappeared with yet another of his caper film : ¨Thousand millions of dollars¨. Rating : Acceptable and passable, a must see for French cinema lovers and Belmond and Shariff fans.
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