6.2/10
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18 user 5 critic

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 by), (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

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Release Date:

1 March 1973 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A sakkozó tolvaj  »

Filming Locations:

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Runtime:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The plaza where Webster and Dave have their final confrontation at the film's conclusion is the same used in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) for the battle between the ape forces and the human forces. See more »

Goofs

When Webster meets Deams and Hector by the ship channel, the wake from a passing ship is clearly seen over their shoulders in the close up shot of the end of their conversation. The camera then cuts to a far shot of the same conversational moment and the water behind them is smooth. See more »

Quotes

Webster: [to Jackie] In a world full of thieves, I wanted to be an honest one.
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User Reviews

 
The Thief and Movie with Intelligence and Chess
23 August 2007 | by See all my reviews

Ryan O'Neil is one of those actors who, given the right part, can hit it out of the ballpark. Like his con artist character in "Paper Moon", the thief is outwardly a comely young man, a charmer, even a gentleman. That's what thieves are supposed to be. They don't kill people, or use violence (at least these types of thieves never do in the movies!). They have wit, humor, and even a little humility, which is what makes their underlying darker side so much more terrifying, enigmatic, and also intriguing. These thieves don't hold up the corner liquor shops in the seedy side of Brooklyn or ransack cheap apartments in New Jersey. They procure their desired objects from jewelry shops in the upper-crust of downtown Manhattan or the large brick houses of the Brookline area of Boston. This is the only kind of thief O'Neal could swing at with a chance of hitting a homer, and he does.

Webster (O'Neal) is nicknamed "the Chess Burglar" as he begins playing a hypothetical chess game with the police, leaving a chess piece and a move with every robbery. He mainly heists jewels from people who don't really need them, like a modern-day Robin Hood. He does his game, both the robbing and the chess, with deft finesse and surgical precision. The police, unable to figure out who their thief really is, at one point hire a professional chess master to oppose the nameless thief-artist to try and create a profile of him based on his moves. At one point, even the chess master comes to his wits end trying to deal with the chess burglar. You may find that a chess master and cunning thief have more in common than you might have expected...

This is a thoroughly enjoyable movie and certainly one of O'Neal's best performances. (I always thought O'Neal would have been perfect as "The Great Gatsby".) This movie deserves DVD treatment, considering many god-awful Hollywood offerings have been released from this era. (I mean, are there people who would actually buy a copy of Airport 1975 or "The Towering Inferno"?) This is a highly intelligent and yet simultaneously quite entertaining film that does exactly what it wants to do, with enough twists and turns that do not foreshadow a very interesting and unexpected ending. And the script was by Walter Hill who made a career of raising lowlifes to the big screen. Please vote for this movie for DVD release.


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