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Silver Bears (1977)

PG | | Comedy, Crime | 3 June 1977 (UK)
Financial wizard "Doc" Fletcher (Michael Caine) is sent by crime boss Joe Fiore (Martin Balsam) to buy a bank in Switzerland in order to more easily launder their profits. When he arrives, ... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Doc Fletcher
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Debbie Luckman
...
Prince Gianfranco di Siracusa
...
Shireen Firdausi
...
Agha Firdausi
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Donald Luckman
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Joe Fiore
...
Albert Fiore
...
Marvin Skinner
...
Charles Cook
...
Henry Foreman
Jeremy Clyde ...
Nick Topping
Moustache ...
Signore Bendetti
Mike Falco ...
Boston
Philip Mascellino ...
St. Louis
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Storyline

Financial wizard "Doc" Fletcher (Michael Caine) is sent by crime boss Joe Fiore (Martin Balsam) to buy a bank in Switzerland in order to more easily launder their profits. When he arrives, Fletcher finds that the bank, acquired by his associate Prince di Siracusa (Louis Jourdan), consists of some shabby offices above a restaurant. To make up for this, the Prince suggests that Fletcher invests in a silver mine owned by Shireen and Agha Firdausi (Stéphane Audran and David Warner). This solves one problem, but the mine also attracts the attention of some of the most powerful people in the silver business. Fletcher must pull out all his wheeler-dealing skills in order to keep hold of everything he's worked for, in the process romancing a banker's discontented wife (Cybill Shepherd). Written by marktreut

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They were after silver and they struck gold.

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 June 1977 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Fool's Gold  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Final feature film of actor Nigel Patrick. See more »

Goofs

When Luckman (Tom Smothers) offers to buy the bank his hands alternate, between shots, from being in his pockets, to hanging loose by his sides. See more »

Crazy Credits

The final credits play over a scene of Donald Luckman writing his story of the events whilst in gaol. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Yes Man (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Raffaella
(uncredited)
Music by Franco Pisano
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User Reviews

 
Tarnished Silver; a Tawdry Movie about Tawdry People
28 February 2011 | by (Tunbridge Wells, England) – See all my reviews

"Silver Bears" has something in common with the "heist" or "caper" movies which were popular in the sixties and seventies, but deals with financial fraud and dodgy deals on the money markets rather than an actual robbery. It stars Michael Caine, who also starred in "The Italian Job", one of the best-known caper movies. Here Caine plays "Doc" Fletcher, a sort of financial troubleshooter for the Mafia. (Like most of Caine's characters, Doc is British; Caine has very rarely played an American in any of his films, "The Cider House Rules" being one of the few exceptions). Doc is sent by his boss, Joe Fiore, to buy a Swiss bank through which the Mob will be able to launder their ill-gotten gains.

The plot is a complex one, involving not only the acquisition of the said bank (which turns out to be no more than a small office above a pizza parlour) but also an investment in an Iranian silver mine and various complicated financial transactions, not all of which are entirely above board. (The mine would explain the "silver" element of the title; the significance of the "bears" element remains obscure, even if one understands the word in its financial rather than its zoological sense).

The late seventies were perhaps not the most distinguished period of Caine's career. In the sixties and early seventies he had made some excellent films in Britain ("Zulu", "Alfie", "The Battle of Britain", "Get Carter"), but he clearly felt that being a major star of the British cinema made him no more than a big fish in a small pond and he wanted to reinvent himself as a Hollywood star. Unfortunately, in his early Hollywood years he often seemed more like a small fish in a big pond and often found himself cast in some dreadful movies.

Indeed, Caine himself has described three of the films which he made in 1978 and 1979, "The Magus", "The Swarm" and "Ashanti", as being his worst. (I have never seen "The Magus", but would certainly agree with him about "The Swarm" and "Ashanti", although I would argue that "Blame it on Rio" from the mid-eighties also deserves a dishonourable mention as one of his least distinguished achievements).

"Silver Bears" is never as bad as something like "Ashanti", but few would count it among Caine's better films. Certainly, the star tries hard, playing Doc as a Cockney geezer reminiscent of Charlie Croker from "The Italian Job", but never makes him very likable. His leading lady Cybill Shepherd, who plays Doc's love-interest Debbie, was also going through a difficult phase in her career at the time, trying to prove, often without much success, both to the world and to herself that she was something more than Peter Bogdanovich's girlfriend and muse. (Both Caine and Shepherd were to see their careers revive in the eighties; he began to find roles in better films like "Hannah and Her Sisters" and she successfully reinvented herself as a TV actress in "Moonlighting").

The film is sometimes described as a "comedy thriller", but I for one never found it either very comic or very thrilling. It lacks the action sequences which can make heist movies exciting, but it shares the main weakness of that particular genre, namely an unsavoury "crime does pay" attitude. None of the main characters seem to have any moral scruples, but none of them end up paying for their sins, apart from one unlucky accountant who is chosen to serve a jail term, largely as a scapegoat for the sins of others. Despite the best efforts of Caine, Shepherd and some other well-known faces such as Louis Jourdan and Joss Ackland, "Silver Bears" is little more than a tawdry movie about tawdry people. A piece of tarnished silver. 5/10


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