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The Thief Who Came to Dinner (1973)

PG | | Comedy, Romance | 1 March 1973 (USA)
A computer programmer decides to become a thief. And when he starts making waves an insurance investigator hounds him. He also meets a woman who becomes his accomplice.

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(screenplay), (based on the novel by)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Webster
...
Laura
...
Dave Reilly
...
Jackie
...
Henderling
...
Deams
...
Zukovsky
...
Dynamite
...
Ted
...
Lasker
...
Insurance Man
Margaret Fairchild ...
Mrs. Donner
Jack Manning ...
Tom Preston
Richard O'Brien ...
Sgt. Del Conte
George Morfogen ...
Rivera
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Storyline

Bored and somewhat fed up with the open corruption around him, Webster McGee decides to quit his job as a computer engineer at Houston-based Control Data Corporation. What he doesn't tell his friends and now former associates is that he does have a plan for his future: to become a jewel thief. His initial primary motivation is not the money, but rather be what he considers an honest thief. His first successful theft against corrupt businessman Gene Henderling leads to several things. Out of circumstance, Webster is able to have a long list of potential future targets. Webster begins a relationship with poor but beautiful socialite Laura Keaton, to who he is open about what he now does as a living. Because he leaves at his thefts a calling card in the form a chess piece and a slip of paper with a chess move, Webster, being coined the Chess Burglar by the media, begins a very public chess match with the Houston Post's elitist chess columnist Zukovsky, who dismisses the Chess Burglar as ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Webster and Laura took everything they wanted ... each other ... and a diamond worth $6.000.000.

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

1 March 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A sakkozó tolvaj  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

During the Premiere in the Children Mental Health Service of Houston, which Ryan O'Neal attended, Warren Oates was met with roaring laughter. See more »

Goofs

Travis is pulled over by police and is asked for the car's registration. In the 70s, Texas did not require that the registration receipt be kept in the car and officers did not ask for it. Hollywood got it wrong because in California drivers were required to present their "registration." See more »

Quotes

Webster: [Laura is jealous about Jackie] Goddamnit! I love you! I live with you! And you know enough about me to put me away for three hundred years! What must I do to prove myself?
Laura: [pause, then] Everything.
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User Reviews

 
Nihilistic antihero sets table for clever and sophisticated caper movie
20 January 2003 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

Webster McGee (superbly realized by Ryan O'Neal) is bored into stupor by his career and life, so much so that his wife (Jill Clayburgh, sparkling in a minor but memorable appearance) left him, and he has come to agree with her for doing so. He also has decided that what all work, all financial endeavors, and all life comes down to is -- thievery. He decides to be true to himself and his newfound convictions and to become "an honest thief." To set his plan into action, he must find and control an unwilling accomplice (terrific performance by Charles Cioffi), and find two cohorts to dispose of the merchandise (hilariously sanctimonious Ned Beatty and street-not-so-wise Gregory Sierra) for profit. That's the premise, and Yorkin adds some incongruous bits along the way for spice and fun. He seduces and is seduced by Jacqueline Bisset, and meets a man who is almost his match in insurance investigator Dave Riley (Warren Oates -- a multifaceted and brilliant performance).

Austin Pendelton has an off-the-wall role for comic relief that's perhaps a bit too silly for the otherwise sophisticated quasi-European anti-establishment satirical tone taken by the rest of the movie's tone. But, you have to allow Bud Yorkin one of these, don't you? There's also a fun car chase (sequence perhaps directed by co-writer and later action-director Walter Hill??), and one more ironic twist. The second half of the movie is dominated by the engaging cat-and-mouse game between McGee and Riley.

I have now watched this movie three times and find it more enjoyable each time. The imagery in the first-third slows the pace a bit, but stick with it, and I think you will be well rewarded.


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