A Fine Pair


1h 55m 1969
A Fine Pair

Brief Synopsis

A detective gets involved with a beautiful jewel thief.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ruba al prossimo tuo
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Thriller
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Philadelphia opening: 30 May 1969
Production Company
Cinema Center Films; Vides
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m

Synopsis

While living apart from his wife, New York City police detective Mike Harmon receives a surprise visit from Esmeralda Marini, the daughter of an Italian policeman who worked on a case with Mike when he was in Rome 12 years before. Esmeralda tells Mike that following the death of her father she helped an international jewel thief rob an Austrian villa in the absence of the American owners. Now repentant, Esmeralda asks Mike to help her return the gems before they are missed. Mike flies to Kitzb├╝hel with her and tricks the local police into revealing the workings of the electronic safeguards protecting the villa. But the jewels that Esmeralda has in her possession are fakes; and, once inside the villa, she steals the genuine gems and leaves behind the imitations. Esmeralda then says that she committed a similar robbery in Rome and would also like to return those gems. Though Mike is now aware of Esmeralda's tactics, he has fallen in love with her; and, excited by her adventurous life, offers to become her partner. Ironically, Esmeralda decides that she prefers the stability of Mike's way of life to her career of professional thief. Following a quarrel, Esmeralda leaves Rome and returns to her parents' home, whereupon Mike frames her for a crime she did not commit and informs the Italian authorities that he is taking Esmeralda and some recovered jewels back to New York. Instead of catching a plane for the States, however, Mike books himself and Esmeralda on a plane bound for Beirut. Once aboard, Mike and Esmeralda discover that the Rome police have relieved them of a fortune in stolen gems.

Film Details

Also Known As
Ruba al prossimo tuo
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Thriller
Release Date
Jan 1969
Premiere Information
Philadelphia opening: 30 May 1969
Production Company
Cinema Center Films; Vides
Distribution Company
National General Pictures Corporation
Country
Italy

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 55m

Articles

A Fine Pair


Rock Hudson got a taste of the Swinging Sixties in this comic caper reuniting him with Claudia Cardinale, his co-star in Blindfold (1965). Where their earlier film had been a lush Universal-International production, however, this lean international picture was only his second after leaving the studio where he had reigned as a star for years. And it was made at a time when his box-office fortunes were on the wane. Although dismissed by fans and critics in its time, however, the film has acquired a stronger reputation in later years thanks to the camp value of Hudson's collision with the world of international discos and the picture's limited exposure since its initial release.

Hudson stars as a conservative police detective whose life is shaken up by the arrival of Cardinale, the daughter of an Italian colleague. Thirteen years earlier, the teenaged girl had had a crush on Hudson. Now she needs his help to break into a Viennese mansion from which a friend had stolen a cache of jewels. Only it wasn't the friend who stole them; it was she. And the jewels she's placing there aren't the real thing; they're fakes designed to replace the real jewels she's out to steal. The question of Cardinale's honesty becomes moot, however, as Hudson starts falling for her and, under her influence, sheds his button-down style to embrace the free-wheeling life of an international jewel thief.

Hudson had completed his long-term contract with Universal with the World War II drama Tobruk (1967). At that point, he took a year off from acting, traveling the world until his business manager informed him that his savings were almost totally depleted. His name made it relatively easy to land leading film roles, but most of the movies he made after his hiatus did little to restore his box office position. It would take a move to television in 1971 for the first of the MacMillan and Wife telefeatures to rebuild his popularity.

At the time he made A Fine Pair, it seemed like a solid idea. Producer Franco Cristaldi had made his name with international hits like Divorce Italian Style (1961) and The Organizer (1963), both starring Marcello Mastroianni. With Cardinale as co-star and location shooting in New York City, Rome, Salzburg and the Tirol, it seemed to have the makings of an opulent international hit.

Hudson tried gamely, throwing himself into madcap chase scenes and comic interludes set in European discos. He even shared some torrid bedroom scenes with Cardinale and a scene in which his character considers smoking marijuana, a far cry from his leading roles in romantic comedies with the likes of Doris Day and Leslie Caron. At 43, he still had all of the boyish charm that had made him a star. And he still had the comic skills to match Cardinale's insouciant performance as a sophisticated jewel thief. Yet he was so polished and secure in his technique that at times he seems out of place in a film shot in a more European style influenced by France's . After films like Breathless (1960) and Jules and Jim (1962), audiences expected the jump cuts and jittery hand-held camera sequences to focus on gritty, quirky actors who performed as if improvising, not a slick Hollywood movie star.

One of the film's chief assets is a score by one of Italy's top film composers, Ennio Morricone. Its light tone is a far cry from his more famous efforts for Westerns like The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966) or the epicThe Mission (1986).

Under the title Rubo al prossimo tuo ("Rob Your Neighbor"), A Fine Pair premiered in Italy in 1968. It took a year to get to the U.S., where its distributor did little to promote it. Instead of booking premiere engagements in first-run houses, National General sent it straight to neighborhood theatres on a double bill with the Elvis Presley Western Charro! (1969). By the time it hit theatres in the U.S., two films he had made later -- the espionage thriller Ice Station Zebra (1968) and the John Wayne Western The Undefeated (1969) -- had already opened. Both did well at the box office, but the former was clearly an ensemble piece, with the special effects often taking center stage. In the latter, he ceded top billing to another male star for the first time in 17 years.

Critics who caught up with the picture were far from impressed. In the New York Times, Roger Greenspun wrote, "Rarely has international jewel thievery -- or, for that matter, a few random nights with Claudia Cardinale -- seemed like more work and less fun." The Motion Picture Herald was more positive, suggesting that "Hudson continues to look younger than his years, and he performs here with a light touch that is engaging." But hopes that the stars' names would help sell the film never really came to fruition given its release pattern.

Oddly, the film's lack of a strong release has actually increased its reputation. With the picture unavailable on DVD, it remains for many of Hudson's fans a tantalizing footnote to his career, with the plot synopsis and a few random clips on YouTube suggesting the camp possibilities of his involvement in a film that keeps trying to be hip and with it while its star treats it like another of his hit comedies with Day.

Producer: Franco Cristaldi, Leo L. Fuchs
Director: Francesco Maselli
Screenplay: Virgil C. Leone, Francesco Maselli
Cinematography: Alfio Contini
Score: Ennio Morricone
Cast: Rock Hudson (Capt. Mike Harmon), Claudia Cardinale (Esmeralda Marini), Leon Askin (Chief Wellman), Walter Giller (Franz), Ellen Corby (Mrs. Walker), Tomas Milian (Roger), Tony Lo Bianco (Officer McClusky)

By Frank Miller
A Fine Pair

A Fine Pair

Rock Hudson got a taste of the Swinging Sixties in this comic caper reuniting him with Claudia Cardinale, his co-star in Blindfold (1965). Where their earlier film had been a lush Universal-International production, however, this lean international picture was only his second after leaving the studio where he had reigned as a star for years. And it was made at a time when his box-office fortunes were on the wane. Although dismissed by fans and critics in its time, however, the film has acquired a stronger reputation in later years thanks to the camp value of Hudson's collision with the world of international discos and the picture's limited exposure since its initial release. Hudson stars as a conservative police detective whose life is shaken up by the arrival of Cardinale, the daughter of an Italian colleague. Thirteen years earlier, the teenaged girl had had a crush on Hudson. Now she needs his help to break into a Viennese mansion from which a friend had stolen a cache of jewels. Only it wasn't the friend who stole them; it was she. And the jewels she's placing there aren't the real thing; they're fakes designed to replace the real jewels she's out to steal. The question of Cardinale's honesty becomes moot, however, as Hudson starts falling for her and, under her influence, sheds his button-down style to embrace the free-wheeling life of an international jewel thief. Hudson had completed his long-term contract with Universal with the World War II drama Tobruk (1967). At that point, he took a year off from acting, traveling the world until his business manager informed him that his savings were almost totally depleted. His name made it relatively easy to land leading film roles, but most of the movies he made after his hiatus did little to restore his box office position. It would take a move to television in 1971 for the first of the MacMillan and Wife telefeatures to rebuild his popularity. At the time he made A Fine Pair, it seemed like a solid idea. Producer Franco Cristaldi had made his name with international hits like Divorce Italian Style (1961) and The Organizer (1963), both starring Marcello Mastroianni. With Cardinale as co-star and location shooting in New York City, Rome, Salzburg and the Tirol, it seemed to have the makings of an opulent international hit. Hudson tried gamely, throwing himself into madcap chase scenes and comic interludes set in European discos. He even shared some torrid bedroom scenes with Cardinale and a scene in which his character considers smoking marijuana, a far cry from his leading roles in romantic comedies with the likes of Doris Day and Leslie Caron. At 43, he still had all of the boyish charm that had made him a star. And he still had the comic skills to match Cardinale's insouciant performance as a sophisticated jewel thief. Yet he was so polished and secure in his technique that at times he seems out of place in a film shot in a more European style influenced by France's

Leon Askin (1907-2005)


Leon Askin, the rotund, imposing Austrian character actor, who was best remembered as General Albert Burkhalter, Conolel Klink's exasperated superior on the hit sitcom Hogan's Heroes, died of natural causes on June 3 in his hometown of Vienna. He was 97.

Born in Vienna, Austria as Leo Aschkenasy on September 18, 1907, Askin developed a taste for theater through his mother's love of cabaret, and as a youngster, often accompanied his mother to weekend productions.

He made a go of acting as a profession in 1925, when he took drama classes from Hans Thimig, a noted Austrian stage actor at the time. The following year, he made his Vienna stage debut in Rolf Lauckner's "Schrei aus der Strasse."

For the next six year (1927-33), he was a popular stage actor in both Vienna and Berlin before he was prevented to work on the stage by Hitler's SA for being a Jew. He left for Paris in 1935 to escape anti-semetic persecution, but returned to Vienna in 1935, to find work (albeit a much lower profile to escape scrutiny), but after a few years, the writing was on the wall, and he escaped to New York City in 1939, just at the outbreak of World War II. His luck in the Big Apple wasn't really happening, and in 1941, he relocated to Washington D.C. and briefly held the position of managing director of the Civic Theatre, a popular city venue of the day. Unfortunately, after the tragic events of Pearl Harbor in December of that year, the United States became involved in the war that had already engulfed Europe for two years, and seeing a possibility to expediate his application for American citizenship, he enlisted in the U.S. Army.

After the war, Leon indeed became a U.S. citizen and changed his name from Leon Aschkenasy to Leon Askin. He returned to New York and found work as a drama teacher, and more importantly, landed his first gig on Broadway, as director and actor in Goethe's Faust in 1947, which starred Askin in the title character opposite the legendary Albert Bassermann who played Mephisto. The production was a huge success. Askin followed this up with another director/actor stint with Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and co-starred with Jose Ferrer in Ben Hecht's 20th Century. They were all Broadway hits, and Askin had finally achieved the success he had worked so hard to seek and merit.

It wasn't long before Hollywood came calling, and soon Askin, with his rich German accent and massive physical presence, made a very effective villian in a number of Hollywood films: the Hope-Crosby comedy Road to Bali (1952); Richard Burton's first hit film The Robe; and the Danny Kaye vehicle Knock on Wood (1954).

Askin's roles throughout the 50's were pretty much in this "menacing figure" vein, so little did anyone suspect that around the corner, Billy Wilder would be offering him his most memorable screen role - that of the Russian commissar Peripetschikof who gleefully embraces Amercian Capitalism in the scintillating politcal satire, One, Two, Three (1961). Who can forget this wonderfully exchange between Peripetschikof and Coca Cola executive C.R. MacNamara (James Cagney):

Peripetschikof: I have a great idea to make money. I have a storage full of saurkraut and I'll sell it as Christmas tree tinsil!
MacNamara: You're a cinch!

His performance for Wilder was wonderfully comedic and wholly memorable, and after One, Two, Three the film roles for Askin got noticable better, especially in Lulu and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (both 1962); but he began to find prominent guest shots on hit television shows too: My Favorite Martian and The Outer Limits to name a few; yet his big break came in 1965, when for six seasons he played General Albert Burkhalter, the Nazi general who was forever taking Col. Kilink's ineptitude to task in Hogan's Heroes (1965-71).

Roles dried up for Askin after the run of Hogan's Heroes, save for the occassional guest spot on television: Diff'rent Strokes, Three's Company, Happy Days; and parts in forgettable comedies: Going Ape! (1981), Airplane II: The Sequel (1982). After years of seclusion, Askin relocated to his birthplace of Vienna in 1994, and he began taking parts in numerous stage productions almost to his death. In 2002, he received the highest national award for an Austrian citizen when he was bestowed with the Austrian Cross of Honor, First Class, for Science and Art. He is survived by his third wife of three years, Anita Wicher.

by Michael T. Toole

Leon Askin (1907-2005)

Leon Askin, the rotund, imposing Austrian character actor, who was best remembered as General Albert Burkhalter, Conolel Klink's exasperated superior on the hit sitcom Hogan's Heroes, died of natural causes on June 3 in his hometown of Vienna. He was 97. Born in Vienna, Austria as Leo Aschkenasy on September 18, 1907, Askin developed a taste for theater through his mother's love of cabaret, and as a youngster, often accompanied his mother to weekend productions. He made a go of acting as a profession in 1925, when he took drama classes from Hans Thimig, a noted Austrian stage actor at the time. The following year, he made his Vienna stage debut in Rolf Lauckner's "Schrei aus der Strasse." For the next six year (1927-33), he was a popular stage actor in both Vienna and Berlin before he was prevented to work on the stage by Hitler's SA for being a Jew. He left for Paris in 1935 to escape anti-semetic persecution, but returned to Vienna in 1935, to find work (albeit a much lower profile to escape scrutiny), but after a few years, the writing was on the wall, and he escaped to New York City in 1939, just at the outbreak of World War II. His luck in the Big Apple wasn't really happening, and in 1941, he relocated to Washington D.C. and briefly held the position of managing director of the Civic Theatre, a popular city venue of the day. Unfortunately, after the tragic events of Pearl Harbor in December of that year, the United States became involved in the war that had already engulfed Europe for two years, and seeing a possibility to expediate his application for American citizenship, he enlisted in the U.S. Army. After the war, Leon indeed became a U.S. citizen and changed his name from Leon Aschkenasy to Leon Askin. He returned to New York and found work as a drama teacher, and more importantly, landed his first gig on Broadway, as director and actor in Goethe's Faust in 1947, which starred Askin in the title character opposite the legendary Albert Bassermann who played Mephisto. The production was a huge success. Askin followed this up with another director/actor stint with Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice and co-starred with Jose Ferrer in Ben Hecht's 20th Century. They were all Broadway hits, and Askin had finally achieved the success he had worked so hard to seek and merit. It wasn't long before Hollywood came calling, and soon Askin, with his rich German accent and massive physical presence, made a very effective villian in a number of Hollywood films: the Hope-Crosby comedy Road to Bali (1952); Richard Burton's first hit film The Robe; and the Danny Kaye vehicle Knock on Wood (1954). Askin's roles throughout the 50's were pretty much in this "menacing figure" vein, so little did anyone suspect that around the corner, Billy Wilder would be offering him his most memorable screen role - that of the Russian commissar Peripetschikof who gleefully embraces Amercian Capitalism in the scintillating politcal satire, One, Two, Three (1961). Who can forget this wonderfully exchange between Peripetschikof and Coca Cola executive C.R. MacNamara (James Cagney): Peripetschikof: I have a great idea to make money. I have a storage full of saurkraut and I'll sell it as Christmas tree tinsil! MacNamara: You're a cinch! His performance for Wilder was wonderfully comedic and wholly memorable, and after One, Two, Three the film roles for Askin got noticable better, especially in Lulu and The Testament of Dr. Mabuse (both 1962); but he began to find prominent guest shots on hit television shows too: My Favorite Martian and The Outer Limits to name a few; yet his big break came in 1965, when for six seasons he played General Albert Burkhalter, the Nazi general who was forever taking Col. Kilink's ineptitude to task in Hogan's Heroes (1965-71). Roles dried up for Askin after the run of Hogan's Heroes, save for the occassional guest spot on television: Diff'rent Strokes, Three's Company, Happy Days; and parts in forgettable comedies: Going Ape! (1981), Airplane II: The Sequel (1982). After years of seclusion, Askin relocated to his birthplace of Vienna in 1994, and he began taking parts in numerous stage productions almost to his death. In 2002, he received the highest national award for an Austrian citizen when he was bestowed with the Austrian Cross of Honor, First Class, for Science and Art. He is survived by his third wife of three years, Anita Wicher. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Location scenes filmed in New York City, the Austrian Alps, and Rome. Released in Italy in 1968 as Ruba al prossimo tuo; running time: 115 min.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Spring May 1969

Released in United States Spring May 1969