QT QUATTRO Night 3: Heist Thriller Night with Herbert Lom, Michael Caine, Shirley Maclaine and Kirk Douglas...
Welcome to the coverage of the third day of the
Quentin Tarantino Film Festival.... This night will be
Heist Thriller Night. The all night horror marathon
had begun to chip away at stamina levels... I’m not
the spring chicken I was 4 years ago... You see... I’m
a lot like a young indie filmmaker of today. My first
year of covering the fest was bare bones, lean and
mean essentials. I didn’t have a lot of skill and
wasn’t quite able to type as well... By year two I had
developed a level of confidence to be able to write
more complete analysis of the films and the coverage
of the event. I began getting a bit artsy fartsy with my
coverage. Then... with the third festival, I found my
coverage getting longer and longer and longer... So
long that some told me I need to begin editing... So
this time out... I’m trying to keep these things from
being 5000 words, trying to boil the events to a little
more than just the essentials... trying to place you in
the mood... and at the same time... giving and serving
the films the justice they deserve. Now... Let’s see if
these hot shot filmmakers go from perilously long
third films to leaner and meaner fourth flicks....
Hmmmm.... (hehehehe, complain about me not
having coverage done will ya Quentin?)
NOW.... Let’s move on to Heist Night. Now...
This is a genre that Quentin has made one of the truly
wonderful films in... so he should know the genre
pretty well... I was fairly confident this would be a
grand night coming in... even though I was not
familiar with either GAMBIT or THE MASTER’S
TOUCH. There was a third... midnight film... but it
was out of genre... a Philipino Blaxploitation Women
in Prison Pirate film called THE MUTHERS....
Now, as Quentin took the stage... He began
by... “When I was working at the video store before
RESERVOIR DOGS, I used to be in charge of
putting together a genre shelf each week... like
Women in Prison films and the like, wellll one day I
was putting together a Heist shelf and I was looking
at the titles and realized... maaan, there are a lot of
really good heist movies and that’s how it began”
Now... we all know how Quentin adapted aspects of
TAKING OF PELHAM 123 and CITY ON FIRE for
RESERVOIR DOGS... but it is nice to see other films
that Quentin has in his cortex from the same
The first film up tonight was GAMBIT...
GAMBIT is now among my top 250 films or so. I
soooo completely love this movie. Now here’s the
thing... you should not investigate too much about
this film. YOU NEED TO SEE IT.
The movie was written by folks that had worked
on THE HUSTLER, PAPER MOON, STRAIGHT
TIME, etc. But it feels like a classic movie from the
thirties or forties, but with that cool sixties ROMAN
HOLIDAY vibe to it.
The director is Ronald Neame... who is
probably best known for directing THE POSEIDON
ADVENTURE... which was the first film I ever saw
in my third week of existence at the Paramount
theater here in Austin... well, Ronald I do believe
might not of ever made a better film than GAMBIT,
though as cinematographer... his work on BLITHE
SPIRIT and ONE OF OUR AIRCRAFT IS MISSING
is exemplary. However, just the sheer magical charm
of this film completely swept me up.
However, though the writing on this film be
very very genius... in fact, there are a couple of
moments where the writing is so good that you can
feel the swelling upon your forehead from the frying
pan they smacked you with. And while that writing
completely wins you... You are left with the idea
that... My god... Herbert Lom, Shirley Maclaine and
Michael Caine are the three most wonderful perfect
people ever assembled for a perfect little piece of
Now... Before entering the theater, Quentin and
I were chatting and he asked me if I had ever seen
GAMBIT, and I looked over at the poster very briefly
and said, “No... but I’m a huge Herbert Lom fan.” To
which Tarantino responded, “Ooooh man, you are
going to Love him in this!” and the entire time he said
it, he had that... I know something you don’t know...
look in his eye that was just insidious.
Now, I can hear some of you wise asses
saying... Harry... how can you be a big fan of Herbert
Lom... who the hell is that? Well you uneducated
heathen... Herbert Lom is a badass... Yeah, I know...
most of you think of Herbert Lom as Chief Inspector
Dreyfus from all those PINK PANTHER movies and
as being Peter Seller’s foil in all those Blake Edwards
comedies... But ya know.... if that’s all you know
about Herbert Lom... that’s just sad... because the
man was a god. As a child, I was terrified of Herbert
Lom... what he represented to me was ultimate
mysterious meglamaniacal power. Herbert Lom was
my Captain Nemo and my pre Darth Vader, Darth
Vader. You ever see... EL CID? This is one of my
top 20... love with every fibre of my being films.
Herbert Lom played that black turban wearing insane
eyes that paralyze... Ben Yussuf... the Moorish
warlord that will destroy EL CID and all of Spain.
He is death, black cold and evil. And for quite some
time, he was my Boogie Man... Herbert Lom is a
fantastic actor of great range and the PINK
PANTHER films typecast him as an eye rolling
buffoon... now albeit he was great at that, but damn
folks... Lom is so much more.
Case in point, GAMBIT. Herbert Lom plays
his Omar Shariff romantic love struck suave pimp
daddy billionaire of the Middle East. He’s the foil...
the character whom... well, you’ll see... BUT what I
love, is they never play to parody... His Shahbandar is
the man. Possibly the best played super rich guy in
Now the flipside of the coin is Shirley Maclaine
who... DAMMMMMN, what a sweetheart. Shirley...
ya know folks, before age crept up on the wondrous
Ms Maclaine, she was simply one of the cutest most
adorable... love and squeeze and take care of her
forever gals you ever did see. She’s playing her Eliza
Doolittle role here, and ya know what... As the
character stands here... I would take her over Audrey
Hepburn any day of the week... I mean dear lord and
pass the ammunition I’m in love... Shirley, I will
pierce you with my ACK ACK of Loooove....
And then... there is poor ol Michael Caine.
Caine is great here, but he falls pray to two characters
that are so well written and played that he can only be
their David Niven. He plays it with a certain drop of
Peachy... and a half teaspoon of ALFIE... and as a
result there is a certain adorable roguish demeanor to
him that I like. But Lom and Maclaine are the
jewels... Caine is the setting.
The heist? Well, find the movie... according to
IMDB it is currently available on VIDEO only.. by
all means... GET THE MOVIE... If you like films
like ROMAN HOLIDAY, CHARADE and the like...
You should adore this film.
Next up was a completely different... kinda
what I expected from Quentin’s Heist night type of
film. THE MASTER’S TOUCH, an Italian Heist
film starring Kirk Douglas.
My background in ITALIAN cinema is pretty
darn good in Horror, the Neo-Realist movement and
Spaghetti Westerns... But in the other genres... I’m a
complete imbecile... So it was with great attention
that I spent to trying to grip and hold on to what
Quentin said about the film. Unfortunately... as he
began firing out at a million miles a minute the
various names and identities of the directors,
screenwriters, producers and actors... whom’s names
all ended with a “o” or an “i” I just got lost... I
mean... Quentin knows his Italian cinema of the
sixties and seventies, like I know my musical,
monster, noir/crime and adventure films of the 30s,
40s and 50s. And usually when I talk about those... it
shoots by too fast for most...
This particular festival is showing quite a bit of
Italian films... especially the night I’m heading into
with is ITALIAN CRIME FILMS... (Can’t wait), so
basically... this is my beginner course. The funny
thing is... I have probably 50 or so scores and
compilations of scores to Italian films... But only a
few films that I’ve seen.
So as I watched this Kirk Douglas flick I was
trying to pick up on the vibe. Well... let me tell you
this... If this film is indicative at all of the genre of
Italian Crime flicks... I’m in for a helluva night
tonight. Kirk Douglas plays his character about half
War Wagony and the other half Colonel Dax. You
can see this playful goshness about him... but then
there is that deadly... I will die for what I believe in
earnestness that his Dax has. Meanwhile... he moves
about with a complete and total assuredness... He
really is great as the recently released world class
thief, that wants to pull the... ONE LAST JOB... and
However, as much as I like Kirk Douglas in this
film... this Italian actor named Giuliano Gemma
who plays MARCO is fantastic. He’s a circus trapeze
artist that gets involved with Douglas. He’s
acrobatic, charming and just steals the show for me.
He also has like all the best scenes in the film, in
terms of action. His car chase and fist fight scenes
and liquor store fight are all wonderful.... BUT a
special nod has to go to the car chase in this film.
This is the best car chase I’ve seen at any of the
Quentin Fests... with the exception of FREEBIE
AND THE BEAN which had... something so great
and fantastic that it boggled the very tissue of the
Ultimately though... the film is serious and
deadly as a heart beat... It left the audience silent...
and morose. EXCELLENT FILM.
The next film was out of genre... It’s that
Philipino Blaxploitation Women In Prison Pirate film
I mentioned above... THE MUTHERS. Now...
Earlier today... before arriving at the theater, I was at
El Capitan Pedro Sangre’s (aka Peter Blood) villa
(aka castle) and his beautiful Arabella Bishop (aka his
wife) and the adorable little daughter... Irena
Dubrovna... a real babe... were socializing and eating
the flesh of cows seared by charcoal in a very
non-Texas way of doing things... foreigners... sigh...
Anyway... the point of this non-sequitor is that Peter
Blood told me that he wouldn’t be here tonight to
watch this film because he’d seen it... and it was... not
So, Imagine my surprise when this film began
kicking exploitation ass right at the 10 minute mark.
I mean... it has all of the high water marks in a
Women in Prison film... but it also has this strange
bizarre out of this world PIRATE motif with
gunboats and cannons and mortars and machine
guns.... And then you have the whole double agent for
the government angle, the typical yummy lesbian
hints... lots and lots of wet breasts and see through tan
tops with excellent headlight action going on. In the
exploitation genre... what I want is to not be bored, to
see a lot of fun weird and wacky stuff... of which this
film has in spades. You need to have beautiful
attractive women, lots of nudity.... And... God
willing, the dialogue needs to be filled with
inflections and memorable lines. When one character
has a snake bite her breast she says, “Just like every
other snake I run into, they always messing with my
tits.” or... the inflection in the way one character
says, “FUCK serena.” Now the all caps is because
you scream the first word... and then softly say the
proper name... Serena. The way and reason that is
said just kills you.
The action is pretty good, the... ‘these girls are
soooo screwed’ level of tension is very high. I’ll
watch this film and cheer with glee about a 20 times
before I’ll even allow someone to hold up the box for
BREAKDOWN PALACE... that was some lame
shit... at a high price. Here... Philipino director Cirio
H Santiago did some fine work here and man this
movie was a blast. Check it out if you ever get the
chance... for one... Rosanne Kanton and Jeannie Bell
are just a pair of the sweetest women you ever did
see... and while playing the pirates... it’s like they’re
doing it for your own personal fetishistic delight....
That wrapped up Night 3.... Next night will be
SEX NIGHT... and boy is there some stories