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To insure some box office for this film released in America as Master Touch, Kirk Douglas was added to this Italian-German production filmed in and around Hamburg. I'm sure that Douglas did this one for the European vacation he was going to get.
Master Touch is your average caper film that has elements of other films like Bullitt, The Asphalt Jungle and Topkapi. But it doesn't glide into the different moods of these films, it rather lurches uncomfortably.
Kirk is a master safe-cracker who's just returned from a stretch in the joint. It's never really explained why this American is operating in Germany, so I assume it was a German prison. Wolfgang Preiss, a syndicate boss for whom he was doing a job when he was caught wants him for another caper. Douglas turns him down flat, but Preiss won't take no for an answer.
In the meantime though he's pinched for cash so what to do, but back to the old trade and he decides to pull the job that Preiss offered on his own. He teams up with young Giuliano Gemma, a young circus performer who he saw best one of Preiss's hoods in a fight. In the meantime wife Florinda Bolkan pleads with Kirk to go straight.
The best parts of Master Touch are devoted to the robbery and it is here the film most resembles Topkapi. The robbery sequences show that Kirk indeed had a Master Touch.
What he didn't have is good judgment in people and that leads to a climax somewhat reminiscent of The Asphalt Jungle. I'm not about to give away any endings.
Master Touch will never make anyone's top 10 list of Kirk Douglas films. Good in spots it still leaves quite a bit to be desired. But Kirk's fans around the world will like it.
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