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In the 1960s Hollywood combined the classic "caper" film with a healthy dose of romantic comedy. The result was a series of charming films such as CHARADE (1963) and HOW TO STEAL A MILLION (1966)--films that combined major stars, clever plots, witty scripts and which balanced suspense with comic and romantic complications.

Made in 1966 and released in 1967, GAMBIT was among the last of these films, and like all others in the genre it had a complex plot. Ahmad Shahbandar (Herbert Lom) is quite possibly the richest man in the world and a recluse to boot, a man who has never gotten over the death of his beautiful Eurasian wife some twenty years ago. Harry Dean (Michael Caine) devises a clever plan to gain access to his luxury apartment and rob him blind: he will use honky-tonk dancer Nicole Chang (Shirley MacLaine), who bears a striking resemblance to Shahbandar's long dead wife, to breach Shahbandar's defenses.

There's only one problem: it won't work. To tell exactly why it won't work is to betray the plot, which is extremely clever; suffice to say that Dean has made a number of incorrect assumptions about both the situation and the personalities involved. When the plot begins to twist, it does so in a truly unexpected way, taking both Dean and the audience completely by surprise.

This is the sort of film that Hollywood used to do so well but which we seldom see today, a frothy, glamorous confection with first rate production values and expert performances from major stars. MacLaine gets top billing, and she is quite fine, but the weight of the film rests on Caine and Lom, who give memorably dry performances, and director Ronald Neame (who was responsible for a host of memorable films including THE PRIME OF MISS JEAN BRODIE) keeps everything moving along at a smart pace with plenty of style.

This may not be the best of the genre--I think both CHARADE and HOW TO STEAL A MILLION, to name but two, outpace it. But even so it is a perfectly charming film, the perfect antidote to a drab afternoon. Just add popcorn!

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
22 comments| 54 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 17, 2004
Gambit shows us two superbly developing stars, Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine -- and in restrospect, you realize from watching this fine movie that they had what it takes, even back in the 1960s. Shirley was just superb as a street-wise nightclub dancer, and Michael was perfect as the crook with grand plans who never could seem to make things work just right. This is a funny film. Your kids will like it, if you can convince them to actually sit and watch it with you, and follow the plot. Gambit was a good precursor to Caine's best finagling movie, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels... you can see where he got practice appearing frustrated, the way his plans with Shirley kept going off track.
Enjoy.
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on August 31, 2010
What happen to ADA requirement per in 2009 expecting increase % for Closed-Captioning or English Subtitle available in these DVDs?
I am bit disappointed when they released those kind of category Vault Series, other Warner Bros Archives dvds they don't carry Closed-Captioning or English subtitle.
I am Deaf and I know these could be great for people who want to watch it and they lost their hearing in later life. Also, Closed-Captioning is great for the loud places so you would not able to miss anything what it says on the movie. Please help the small minority of hearing loss by spreading awareness to put closed-captioning or English subtitles on every DVDs.
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on July 15, 2003
Gambit is a marvelous film full of style as well as substance. Much as I'd like to discuss the plot, I dare not because much of the film's special surprises stem directly from telling the plot. So just trust me when I say grab it- if for no other reason the exotic locales, Shirley MacLaine's beauty, charm, and smarts (not to mention the stunning wardrobe by costumer Jean Louis), and the fun interplay between MacLaine, relative newcomer Michael Caine, and the urbane and charming Herbert Lom. A perfect film for the Sunday afternoon you're not going anywhere.
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on March 12, 1999
An extremely amusing film.The first half is quite serious but the second half sweeps you off on a rollercoaster ride of humour,romance and sheer unpredictablity!My favourite line in the movie is when the millionaire asks what is said about amber Michael Caine doesn`t have a clue and tries to bluster his way out when Shirley Maclaine smiles sweetly and remarks coolly,"amber is the soul of the tiger trapped in stone" She is just lovely in it
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on September 4, 2014
I waited for this one to come out on DVD for many years. It's the old 60s comedy film with Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine as a cat burglar and the dancer he hires for a very special reason, as you will come to find out if you haven't already seen it. They're great together. Really original plot line, fun to watch. I've viewed it at least a dozen times over the years. I heard that they made a remake in 2014 with Colin Firth (whom I love) and Cameron Diaz, but I haven't seen it yet. I just would find it hard to believe it's as good as the original though. Watch this version, you'll enjoy it.
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on March 6, 2010
A really fun little comedy with a number of unexpected twists. Extremely well played by Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine and Herbert Lom.
MacLaine is utterly delightful, giving us a nicely nuanced performance as a dancehall girl stuck in Hong Kong (that alone is something of a major feat in a comedy). Caine comes across as an inventive and low-tech, if not very physical, James Bond wannabe. Lom does a very nice job as the intended mark and gives a performance far superior to those in the Pink Panther series.
Most of the action takes place in the Middle East (without terrorists, explosions or gunfire). The con game involves a plan, a statue, a deceased wife and a doppelganger.
Sit back and enjoy. This is a delight.
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on July 11, 2014
"Good, clean fun"...as the saying goes. I saw it in the theater when it first came out; so you know how old I am. Why can't they make more movies like this...(again, you know how old I am.) Yes, I very much recommend this, unless you've already seen it on TV, which some of my younger friends have; hopefully it was not edited! Clever story, unexpected twist, which lays the foundation for the humorous-ness that follows. Not sure, but I think the costumes were by Edith Head; if not, they were quite beautiful nonetheless. Shirley M. does them all justice; and Michael Caine was the perfect fit for the character he plays.
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on September 18, 2011
One of the 'Per Request' recent releases by the major studios, who have finally realized there is good money to be made from digging into their treasure trove of forgotten films.

Hardcore cinephiles have spent years, no, decades, walking into the darkest corners of the collectibles world; dealing with the opportunistic predators that populate it and paying nose-bleed prices for video that is barely recognizable: Skittering, pan-n-scan, washed out colors, audio scratches, bad tracking; basically the crummiest early video recordings from the 1970s and 1980s repeatedly copied over and over and over and over. Enduring all of that garbage in order to watch a film that never received a post-theatrical commercial release.

The advent of DVD burners turning out One-Disc-For-One-Paying-Customer has been the blessed key that released all of us from those foul sewer pits - and I'm terribly grateful.

I'm amazed to read some complain that the prices are too high. Well, then you haven't been where I've been, heard what I've heard, and seen what I've seen. Twenty-something bucks is reasonable. I admit, it's not pocket change, but then you haven't spoken to some of these so-called dealers who demand $40-$60-$80 or more for their "has-never-been-released" piles of 1970s and 80s home video rips or the cleverer 8mm/16mm film repro guys who manage to obtain rare material from the 1920s-30s. You haven't had to knuckle under to these creeps, so you don't know how lucky you are at twenty-something a pop. Damn lucky.

Sorry, but this is an important moment in the history of films and I want to savor every minute of it. <g>

'Gambit' is one of these very special movies. Starring Michael Caine, Shirley MacLaine and the always enjoyable Herbert Lom, this production takes us on a humorous heist adventure in what was then the very exotic worlds of Hong Kong and Malaysia.

Caine plays Harry Dean, a short con specialist who has spied himself a very valuable bauble. The trick here is the man who owns it is a billionaire industrialist with resources and access to the most advanced security money can buy. Keep in mind that in 1966 the concept of a 'billionaire' would be the same as saying "That guy owns the moon". It was both bizarre and off-putting, since the concept of ultra wealthy typically meant you were a 'millionaire'. The b-word term itself was only used to describe economies of entire countries, not a single person.

So, how to obtain said bauble? Best known and oldest distraction in the grifter handbook: A beautiful woman. But this is no regular mark. Lom's character is wise, intelligent and very cautious. The distraction has to be something special. And Ol' Harry has found that special girl. Working in a cheap Hong Kong dancehall is Ms. Nicole Chang - aka the truly stunning Shirley MacLaine.

And why this particular woman? Because she's the very image of the billionaire's late wife and the ultimate bait for Harry's hook.

The plan: Accidentally bump into billionaire, attract same and quietly allow them time alone. Then cat burglar his way to the bauble and voila' - everyone is rich.

What made this so darn funny is the set-up, the first twenty minutes of the movie. Just when you think you're watching Harry's ludicrous plan going off without a hitch - it being almost too easy - you realize it actually is. It's revealed that he has yet to initiate contact with Nicole (a fun adventure in and of itself) and that everything seen up to that point had been his fanciful fantasy.

Real life isn't like that. And you know what happens to all best laid plans, things never go as expected do they? <g>

An extremely enjoyable film for heist fans. And more so for heist fans that love a romantic-comedy-adventure. Very much in the vein of 'How to Steal a Million'. Maybe even better in some ways, 'Gambit' is that good.
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on October 1, 2000
This is an excellent comedy adventure film full of action and suspense. It's one of those heist movies that used to be popular. Ronald Neame tightly directed this film for full dramatic-comic impact. It contains an admirable score by Maurice Jarre. Not bad.
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