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In 1803 France, Napoleon Bonaparte (Robert Cornthwaite) orders the capture of notorious highwayman "Purple Mask" (Tony Curtis), who routinely rescues imprisoned nobles and harasses the Revolutionary officials.
While not one of the greatest of actors, Tony Curtis was always watchable and gave good performances (truly great actually in 'Some Like it Hot' and 'Sweet Smell of Success') in a fair share of good films. That '40 Pounds of Trouble' was directed by talented Norman Jewison, in his feature film debut, and had a promising cast were also good reasons to see it.
'40 Pounds of Trouble', the second of three re-workings of 'Little Miss Marker', may not be perfect or one of the all-time greats, nor did it try to be, or among the best work of those involved. Jewison especially went on to better things, such as 'Fiddler on the Roof' and 'In the Heat of the Night'. It is great fun though, with bags of charm. One of those films that doesn't try to do too much or play it too safe, knowing what it wanted to do and how to approach it, succeeding in its goal.
There is not an awful lot wrong here. It perhaps ends predictably and conveniently and occasionally loses momentum in the latter parts of the film where it could have done with more variety.
Phil Silvers overdoes it somewhat, a very enthusiastic performance that was mostly fun but at times over-eager, and could have reigned in more, had the sense that Jewison was not finding it easy to control him.
Curtis is like the film however, immensely likeable. Despite having less of the heroic, athletic quality of his early roles and more of the darker, meaty quality of others when he grew as an actor, he still manages to find the right touch of light-footed energy and charm. He shares amusing and tender chemistry with appealing, neither too cute or bratty, Claire Wilcox.
Suzanne Pleshette is a charmer in her role and Kevin McCarthy and Larry Storch have fun in theirs. Visually, '40 Pounds of Trouble' has a glossy and elegant look, while the witty and humorously light-hearted script, nostalgic Disneyland setting, generally lively pace (occasionally losing momentum in the latter parts), sparkling cast chemistry and engagingly likeable story make the film further appealing. As said, Jewison did go on to better things, for a feature debut though it is quite competent and at least seems to be in keeping with the film's light tone.
Overall, entertaining and easy to like. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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