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The stakes are high when a high-class hooker, Dawn Divine (Goldie Hawn), and a handsome con man, Joe Collins (Warren Beatty), team up for a Hamburg bank heist. They set their targets on the secret stashes of a shady army sergeant, a German drug dealer and a Vegas mobster. But when the crooks realize they've been double-crossed, Dawn and Joe must run for their lives in order to keep the loot.
Goldie Hawn, freshly launched into stardom via TV's Laugh-In gives a bubbly but nuanced performance in one of her first feature-film roles, $ (also known as Dollars). She and costar Warren Beatty look so darn cute together (as they would again later in Shampoo), and have such terrific onscreen chemistry, that we forgive the writers for needlessly making Hawn's character a hooker. Still, to borrow from Working Girl, Hawn's Dawn Divine has a bod for sin--but also, it turns out, a mind for business, at least the kind of business that Beatty's tousled, charming criminal, Joe Collins, has in mind. The film is set on location in Frankfort and Bavaria, Germany, and Scandinavia, and the glorious feel of Europe in the early '70s is here in all its splendor--and grit. Collins' crime is a devilish international bank heist, complicated by language, communists, the Cold War, and next to no technology. It's a sort of a no-frills Oceans Eleven, without the 11 sidekicks.
$ can't quite decide if it's a farce or drama, but there's no question about its action chops; its chase scene is long and intense, and shot crisply and suspensefully by cinematographer Petrus R. Schlömp. The music is by Quincy Jones and is appropriately hip and rich, and Little Richard(!) sings the theme song, "Money Is…" But the reason to watch this film is to see the great chemistry between Hawn, at the beginning of her film craft, and Beatty, nearing his own peak. And to see a snapshot of the Western world circa 1970--which is truly priceless. Extras include some mini vignettes by Sony Home Entertainment about its "Martini Movies" series, including sly definitions of what makes a leading man ("he never lets the audience see him sweat"), how to pull off a heist, and, helpfully, several martini recipes. --A.T. Hurley
Stills from $ (Dollars) (Click for larger image)
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Joe Collins (Warren Beatty) and Dawn Divine (Goldie Hawn) have pulled off an almost perfect caper and the police aren't after them. But the bad guys are!
Tough, intelligent, crafty. And with Western Europe in the 1970s as a backdrop.
Consider 'Kaleidoscope' (1966) with Warren Beatty and Susannah York a worthwhile follow-up film.