|THE THIEF WHO CAME TO DINNER (director: Bud Yorkin; screenwriters: Walter Hill/based on the novel by Terrence Lore Smith; cinematographer: Philip Lathrop; editor: John C. Horger; music: Henry Mancini; cast: Ryan O'Neal (Webster), Jacqueline Bisset (Laura) Warren Oates (Dave Reilly), Austin Pendleton (Zukovsky), Jill Clayburgh (Jackie), Charles Cioffi (Henderling), Ned Beatty (Deams); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Bud Yorlin; Tandem/Warner; 1973)|
|"A mild, inconsequential
episodic caper comedy."
by Dennis Schwartz
mild, inconsequential episodic caper comedy,
involving a computer expert who becomes a jewel
thief robbing upscale homes. It's based
on the novel by Terrence Lore Smith. Director
Bud Yorkin ("Twice in a Lifetime"/"Start
The Revolution Without Me"/"Inspector
Clouseau") has a heavy hand for
comedy, and butchers this pic despite trying so hard.
Writer Walter Hill has a flare for writing listless
scripts. Here he saddles the tedious comedy further
with a complex plot, that's unwarranted.
computer analyst Webster ( Ryan O'Neal) moonlights as
a jewel thief, for some reason I can't recall. His
M.O. is to leave a chess piece at the crime scene.
Webster tells us that he does so because
"Throughout the ages great minds have turned to
chess -- Napoleon, Da Vinci and Cromwell. It goes
hand-in-hand with a lust for greatness."
society matron Laura (Jacqueline Bisset)
becomes Webster's hot girlfriend for a reason I can't
believe, after he meets her at a dinner party in her
run-down mansion. The supporting actors try to give
the pic some meat and do so, even if the pic still
remains undernourished despite their valiant efforts.
As serious-minded Reilly (Warren Oates) is appealing
as the bemused and wry humored probing insurance
investigator, who suspects our boy is a thief and sets
a trap for him. While Zukovsky (Austin
Pendleton) is a goof as the befuddled chess
editor at The Houston Chronicle, who
seems like he's on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
cast members in forgettable roles include: Ned
Beatty, as a Houston jewel fence; Jill Clayburgh, as
O'Neal's jealous first wife; and Charles
Cioffi, as the magnate who O'Neal blackmails to get
invites into society homes. The film might still
amuse some even if it generates few laughs and shows
no moves to greatness..
REVIEWED ON 12/27/2015 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ