Set against an appealingly sunny Sicilian backdrop, the film finds Simon Templar, an elegant thief and ethical busybody, outraged when a British banker is murdered after he recognizes an old colleague-turned-Mafia kingpin.
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Granted, I've never seen Rififi or Grand Slam, but this one-time TV two-parter of The Saint that was later given a theatrical release is to me, the best heist movie I've ever watched. Roger Moore stars, in his pre-Bond days, in a sendup of James Bond pictures, as Simon Templar, he is sent to protect the identity of a fictional Ian Fleming named Amos Klein, who prefers to remain anonymous to the public. It turns out that Mr. Klein is actually a girl, and she and Templar are kidnapped by a gang who take their identities from the baddies in Klein's book and Klein is asked to produce a real-life device to break into an actual fortress of a bank.
The comedy is hilarious, and the spoof of Bond works on so many levels: it's a Bond movie that spoofs Bond played by a James Bond. Roger Moore may only be able to play one thing, but he plays it wonderfully with effortless charm, Sylvia Syms is terrific as Klein, and Kenneth J. Warren outstanding as the Klein devotee/gang leader Warlock. This is a sadly lost piece of work and one of the most underrated movies in the world. And I never fail to laugh when Moore scolds Ken Warren for behaving "like a mentally deficient buffalo." 4 **** out of 4
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