Cast & Crew
The international jewel thief known as the Ace of Diamonds has long been in retirement, but his protégé, Jeff Hill--dubbed the Jack of Diamonds--is rapidly building a reputation equal to his mentor's. After stealing a fortune in jewels from the New York apartment of Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jeff sets out to execute a robbery aboard a luxury liner. Though he encounters another burglar in one of the staterooms, he succeeds in escaping with the gems. Then, following the theft of Carroll Baker's jewels, Jeff flies to Munich and is visited by the Ace, who tries to persuade him to quit while he is still ahead of the game. But a chance meeting with Olga leads Jeff to an introduction to the master thief of Europe, Nicolai. He learns that Olga is the burglar he encountered on the liner and agrees to join forces with her and Nicolai in removing the fabled Zaharoff diamonds from an electronically-guarded bank vault in Paris. As the elaborate details of the crime are being worked out, Jeff cannot resist stealing the jewels of a third film star, Lilli Palmer. The Zaharoff job goes well, but, when an alarm is accidentally triggered and the police close in, the Ace appears and allows himself to be caught so that Jeff and Olga can escape. Jeff, however, refuses to accept the magnanimous gesture. A deal is negotiated with Von Schenk of the International Security Alliance whereby Jeff, Nicolai, and Olga agree to return all the jewels they have stolen--and retire from their criminal careers--in exchange for the Ace's freedom. The agreement is fulfilled, but Nicolai sheepishly admits that he has kept one small bauble for Olga's dowry.
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Bavaria Studio Orchestra
Robert L. Joseph
Klaus Von Rautenfeld
Hans Joachim Richter
Jack of Diamonds
In this international production, which was shot on locations in New York City, Paris, Genoa, Munich and the Bavarian Alps, Hamilton plays Jeff Hill, whose secret identity is a jewel thief known as the "Jack of Diamonds." While preying on the rich and famous, Hill eventually crosses paths with Olga (Marie Laforet), a female thief, during a cruise ship burglary. Hill gets away with the jewels but the two rival safecrackers are later reunited through their mentors who taught them everything - The "Ace of Diamonds" (Joseph Cotten) and Nicolai (Maurice Evans). Despite competitive egos, Jeff and Olga are encouraged to work together as a team and the quartet are soon plotting their next heist - the famous Zaharoff diamonds. Housed in a high-security chamber within the Paris police headquarters, the jewels appear burglar-proof until the "Jack of Diamonds" and his cohorts prove otherwise in an almost flawless heist with a twist ending.
Eurotrash movie soundtrack fans take note: The score for Jack of Diamonds is by the great Peter Thomas, whose eclectic and playful pop scores have enhanced countless international films over the years from selected Edgar Wallace "krimis," to the Jerry Cotton spy thrillers of George Nader to the wacky German TV sci-fi series Space Patrol. Here he supplies a groovy musical ambiance which covers all the required bases from a swinging discothèque to a race on skis accompanied by a yodeling chorus.
Pop culture aficionados will also get a kick out of Jack of Diamonds; it's a gold mine of sixties fashions, in-jokes and colorful eye candy. The opening of the film presents Hamilton, clad in a tight-fitting, black-hooded body suit, scaling a hotel wall like the French super criminal Fantomas or, more appropriately, Diabolik. The latter was a popular comic strip character at the time in Italy and served as the inspiration for the fantasy adventure Danger Diabolik, directed by Mario Bava, and released the following year. Hamilton's devil-may-care attitude and thrill of the heist very much mirrors the attitude of the Diabolik comic strip though the look of the film is closer to the touristy postcard beauty of Alfred Hitchcock's To Catch a Thief (1955). And though Jack of Diamonds went virtually unnoticed at the time of its release, it may have been the inspiration for the TV series, It Takes a Thief (1968-1972) starring Robert Wagner as international jewel thief Alexander Mundy whose adventures take him all over Europe.
Although Jack of Diamonds was clearly designed as a star vehicle for Hamilton, he is ably supported by an international cast that mixes polished professionals like Joseph Cotten and Maurice Evans with distinctive European actors such as Marie Laforet and Wolfgang Preiss. There's also the novelty of seeing guest stars Zsa Zsa Gabor, Carroll Baker (already well into the Italian exploitation phase of her career) and Lilli Palmer playing themselves as guest victims of the Jack of Diamonds.
Jack of Diamonds was directed by former actor Don Taylor who began helming features in 1961 starting with the Mickey Rooney-Buddy Hackett comedy, Everything's Ducky. His other directing credits include the Italian spaghetti Western The Five Man Army (1969), scripted by future horror maven Dario Argento, Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971) and the cult sci-fi adventure The Final Countdown (1980).
Producer: Sandy Howard, Helmut Jedele
Director: Don Taylor
Screenplay: Jack De Witt, Sandy Howard, Howard Joseph, Robert L. Joseph
Cinematography: Ernst Wild
Film Editing: Hannes Nikel
Art Direction: Rolf Zehetbauer
Music: Bob Harris, Peter Thomas
Cast: George Hamilton (Jeff Hill), Joseph Cotten (Ace of Diamonds), Marie Laforet (Olga), Maurice Evans (Nicolai Vodkine), Wolfgang Preiss (Von Schenk), Karl Lieffen (Helmut).
C-108m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Jeff Stafford
Jack of Diamonds
Location scenes filmed in New York City, Paris, Genoa, the Bavarian Alps, and Munich.
Released in United States 1967
Released in United States 1967