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Lassiter is basically an attempt to cash in on Tom Selleck's fame on Magnum PI, and his loss of the role of Indiana Jones. The film is set in the same time period as Raiders of the Lost Ark, with the same villains, the Nazis. Instead of a swashbuckling archaeologist, Selleck is a slick jewel thief, Nick Lassiter. Instead of being recruited by the government to recover a treasure, he is blackmailed. However, this is no ode to the Republic serials; no, this is an ode to the caper films of yesterday, with a little To Catch a Thief thrown in for good measure.
Selleck's Nick Lassiter is an American jewel thief, living and operating in London. When not stealing from high society, he enjoys the good life. Selleck looks good in his period costumes, like he belongs. He brings charm and humor to the role, the perfect blend for a gentleman thief.
Jane Seymour is his love interest, a dancer. Seymour is beautiful as always and makes the most of a limited role.
Lauren Hutton gets the juicier role of the Nazi courier and kinky assassin. Hutton plays this decadent role to the hilt, if a bit over the top.
Finally, Bob Hoskins is a London cop who concocts the frame-up that forces Lassiter to attempt to steal Nazi diamonds. This is one of Hoskins earlier film roles and he easily steals the movie. He's not a likable character, but he keeps your interest.
The rest of the cast is filled primarily with tv actors, like Joe Regalbuto and Ed Lauter. They are fine actors, but don't bring the same level to their character roles that the better film actors do. Their appearance has more to do with budget than talent.
The film was co-financed by Raymond Chow, of Golden Harvest, which explains the low budget. Had this been a bigger studio picture, with stronger supporting characters, it could have been a great hit. Instead, it is an entertaining minor film, which appears to steal from James Bond and Indiana Jones. It looks like it was made for tv, and works better on the small screen. The music is of the period, and makes a welcome change from more modern music. The end credits feature a song from Taco. For those not acquainted with 80's New Wave, Taco was an odd performer who mixed New Wave sounds with Cole Porter and other Jazz Age songs. He had the perfect voice for those songs, but the end result was more amusing than memorable.
This is a fine film to watch on a rainy Saturday afternoon, or when sick in bed. It brings a smile to your face, as long as your expectations aren't too high.
What made the film for me were the performances. Selleck is fitting in the main role as Lassiter; suave, but dogged. Who really stood out though were the ladies; Jane Seymour and especially Lauren Hutton. A hypnotic Seymour brought a sweet innocence to her role as Lassiter's dancer girlfriend, while the very seductively edgy Hutton was the opposite in her kinky femme fatal part. In support there were solid character actors; Joe Regalbuto, Bob Hoskins, Ed Lauter and a burly Warren Clarke as a German bodyguard. Watching how the breezy story unfolds is predictable (although clever in its schemes and throwbacks), but the engrossing script (Whom playing whom), character interactions and planned-out scenarios (numerous instances of caught between a rock and a hard place) are enjoyably digestible and humorously sharp. The direction is trim, but fashionably tailored with good locations and period details. Catchy theme song during the end credits too.
A fun concept somehow goes astray and never realizes its full potential. Director Roger Young and company take an old-fashioned plot, dress it up in dandy clothes, add some dashes of modern sex, violence and nudity, but their final effort falls apart long before the conclusion and, at least in one case, it is not hard to see why.
A plot this simple should move with fleet feet, but the pace instead moves in fits and starts. The bones of a great film are here, but they are never fleshed out enough and some convoluted plot additions do not help. The film drags on long past the point it should have concluded and contains at least one too many conclusions.
The production looks great and sports a fine supporting cast. Bob Hoskins is on hand as a sputtering British bobby who does not like giving the elusive Lassiter a get-out-jail-free card for his efforts. Jane Seymour is as pretty as a porcelain doll as Lassiter's girl Friday. Lauren Hutton has a field day as the sexually voracious and deadly German courier whom Lassiter must romance in order to scope out the interior of the German Embassy. Unfortunately, after presenting Hutton as a truly deadly nemesis, the film completely bungles their final confrontation and fails to show us their love scene, which one would imagine would have been wild indeed.
The film's biggest problem lies with its leading man. Obviously the character of Lassiter conjures up the likes of a George Sanders, David Niven or Cary Grant. In short, it requires someone charismatic, urbane, debonair yet able to pull off the physical action required. After having bored us to death two years previously with a similar period adventure in High Road to China, actor Tom Selleck now torpedoes another period piece. Where debonair is called upon, Selleck gives us dull. Where suspense and action are called for, Selleck gives us lifeless. He comes off as little more than a good-looking prop who can barely summon the energy to move from point A to point B on the set. I would say he is wooden, but I am afraid to libel a tree. He never seems much of a match for Hutton, proves a dismally lacking romantic foil for Seymour and comes off as little better than a stunt man in the action scenes. We have no rooting interest nor concern in what happens with this character and that is largely the fault of Selleck's lackluster performance. By the film's conclusion, quite literally the ONLY memorable thing that Selleck has contributed is in briefly baring his best asset while exiting Hutton's bed in the nude. This stellar contribution is offset moments later when a guard catches him lounging around in Hutton's frilly robe and a scene where the actor could have demonstrated a light comic touch is instead played as if a humorless mannequin inhabited the part.
Rarely have I seen an actor whose low-wattage on screen personality so completely sabotages a film (Rob Lowe's ho-hum performance in Masquerade comes to mind, but that film was strong enough to overcome him), as what Selleck does here. Hollywood was and is teaming with a lot of good-looking leading men, so why filmmakers would choose to fill such a role as this with an actor of arguably no charisma or life is a real head-scratcher. In all honesty, in some scenes Lassiter could have been portrayed by a chair and the end result would offer no difference than what Selleck contributes here.
I seem to love this scene more than any other. No wonder I sort of have a soft, hot spot for Lauren, and this scene gave me a love for the black widow roles in the movies.
Thank you, Lauren. You helped establish my first guilty pleasure, as the beautiful killer Kari Von Fursten. You were wonderful.
You made your role as Kari Von Fursten, and this scene, very special, very deadly, and very sexy.
But he's got one confirmed enemy in Scotland Yard's Inspector Bob Hoskins. You can see how pained he is when British Intelligence and our own FBI in the person of Joe Regalbuto want him for his services in burglarizing the German Embassy in that year or so when Neville Chamberlain declared peace in our time and World War II actually began.
Selleck is a lot less unflappable than he is as Magnum. That's because Hoskins is just itching to nail him if something goes wrong. There are two prominent female parts, Jane Seymour as the good girl and Lauren Hutton doing her best Marlene Dietrich imitation as full time Nazi seductress and a real man killer literally.
Jewels is his game and a fortune in gems the Germans are known to keep in their embassy is what the British want. They say the sale of the swag will finance all kinds of subversion. Selleck might have alternate uses in mind.
Playing a small but very key role is fellow expatriate Ed Lauter who used to be a bootlegger in the States along with Selleck but left for the United Kingdom where the cops don't carry guns and therefore not likely to shoot you. Lauter is a wheel man and that fact plus the fact that their police don't carry weapons is key to how Selleck pulls the caper off.
Lassiter is a lighthearted caper film and a caper pulled against the most evil of villains is something always the audience will like.
Now the site tells me I have to write more than one line...so...
It has been too long since I have seen it! I don't have a working VCR anymore and I wouldn't invest in one, anyway. I remember that Tom Selleck is great in this movie and along with Jane Seymour, they have a great on-screen chemistry. The movie reminds me of the cat-burglary of "To Catch A Thief", but the period is WWII Europe and Tom Selleck must break into an embassy to try to avoid prison, much like Sean Connery did in "The Rock". It has many twists and turns and a surprise ending to equal "The Sting"!
This movie has it all!