Gambit


1h 49m 1966
Gambit

Brief Synopsis

A man dreams of the perfect robbery but can't seem to pull it off.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Crime
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 Dec 1966
Production Company
Universal Pictures
Country
United States
Location
New Mexico; London, England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

While working in a Hong Kong nightclub, a ginger-haired Eurasian woman named Nicole Chang is approached by a cockney thief, Harry Dean, and a French sculptor, Emile Fournier. The two men plan to use her in their scheme to steal a priceless Chinese statuette, the LiSsu, from Middle Eastern multimillionaire Ahmad Shahbandar since Nicole's appearance is remarkably similar to that of Shahbandar's late wife, whose features resembled those of the statuette. Posing as Sir Harold and Lady Dean, Harry and Nicole travel to Shahbandar's city of Dammuz, where he lives in a hotel penthouse. Although Shahbandar is immediately taken with Nicole, he quickly suspects their true purpose and substitutes a copy for the real statuette. By chance, Harry discovers the hiding place of the real statuette and removes the work, but Nicole is apprehended and told to inform him that unless the LiSsu is returned he will be killed. Harry explains to Nicole that Emile is so accomplished at duplicating art treasures that even art dealers cannot distinguish between his work and an original. After assuring Shahbandar by telegram that the real statuette remains within the penthouse, Harry makes plans to sell a copy made by Emile 2 years earlier, revealing that the "theft" was a hoax designed to facilitate the sale of the fraud. Nicole refuses to stay with Harry, however, unless he gives up his life of crime; and Harry, in a grand display of love, smashes Emile's copy of the statue. As Harry leaves with the delighted Nicole, he glances knowingly at Emile. Once alone, Emile goes to a wall closet and removes three more imitation statues.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Crime
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1966
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 Dec 1966
Production Company
Universal Pictures
Country
United States
Location
New Mexico; London, England, United Kingdom

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 49m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Art Direction

1966

Best Costume Design

1966

Best Sound

1966

Articles

Gambit


Small time crooks Harry Dean (Michael Caine) and his pal, Emile (John Abbott), concoct a daring scheme: to steal a priceless Chinese sculpture from Arab multimillionaire Shahbandar (Herbert Lom). To accomplish this, Harry and Emile recruit Nicole (Shirley MacLaine), a Eurasian woman working in a Hong Kong nightclub, who bears an amazing likeness to Shahbandar's late wife. Posing as man and wife, Harry and Nicole (clothed and made up to resemble the Arab's deceased wife) visit Shahbandar's city where their arrival is followed with great interest by the reclusive art collector. Following a carefully worked out time schedule, Harry and Nicole eventually succeed in being invited to tea at Shahbandar's fortress-like home where Harry sets in motion his planned heist of the Chinese bust.

Within the specialized genre of the "heist film," there are vast differences in tone and execution from one movie to the next that can range from dark (The Asphalt Jungle, 1950) to lighthearted (Topkapi, 1964). Of the latter category, Gambit (1966) is easily one of the more entertaining examples and it opened at a time when Michael Caine's popularity as a leading man was just starting to peak. Shirley MacLaine, in her autobiography, My Lucky Stars: A Hollywood Memoir takes the credit for his American film debut, stating, "Michael Caine was a cockney actor; I had liked him in The Ipcress File [1965]. He tickled me with his dry, sardonic wit, and I asked him if he'd come to America and star with me in Gambit. He came all right and cut a swath through the single girls in Hollywood like a rocket with no resistance. He'd report for work after a hard night's play, stagger into his trailer, blast his Beatles records up to hyperspace, and try to get some sleep." Still, he found time to give an amusing performance as a smugly superior con-artist surpassed by his more intuitive female accomplice.

In his own autobiography, What's It All About?, Caine recalls his first impressions of MacLaine: "Although she had chosen me for the film role, we had still never met and to fix this she gave me a welcome party. I remember it was held in a big hotel ballroom somewhere. I arrived early, and when we were introduced, I was immediately enchanted by her; she made me feel instantly at home and welcome in this strange environment." The actor quickly adapted to the Hollywood fast-lane lifestyle, stating that "Gambit was proceeding so smoothly that it became secondary to the incredible social life I was leading. Ronald Neame, the director, was an expert at this sort of light frothy comedy, Shirley and I worked harmoniously together and Herbert Lom, who was the other star of the movie, was an expert and a sweetheart - so there was never a problem, apart from the fact that the movie was being shot in the Valley, which was notorious for its smog. Sometimes it was so thick you could not see a hundred yards in front of you, and it stung the eyes."

Not all of Gambit was filmed in Hollywood though and there is some exotic location footage of Hong Kong featured in the first half of the film. The movie also opens with an elaborately staged heist (as imagined by Michael Caine) that is a playful twist on the climactic final act of most crime caper films. The fun comes in watching how the actual theft of the Chinese sculpture plays out in a totally unexpected way from the original plan. Audiences and critics alike were charmed by Gambit and it went on to garner three Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Sound.

Producer: Leo Fuchs
Director: Ronald Neame
Screenplay: Jack Davies, Alvin Sargent
Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, George C. Webb
Cinematography: Clifford Stine
Editing: Alma Macrorie
Music: Maurice Jarre
Cast: Shirley MacLaine (Nicole Chang), Michael Caine (Harold "Harry" Dean), Herbert Lom (Ahmad Shahbandar), Roger C. Carmel (Ram), Arnold Moss (Abdul).
C-109m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeff Stafford
Gambit

Gambit

Small time crooks Harry Dean (Michael Caine) and his pal, Emile (John Abbott), concoct a daring scheme: to steal a priceless Chinese sculpture from Arab multimillionaire Shahbandar (Herbert Lom). To accomplish this, Harry and Emile recruit Nicole (Shirley MacLaine), a Eurasian woman working in a Hong Kong nightclub, who bears an amazing likeness to Shahbandar's late wife. Posing as man and wife, Harry and Nicole (clothed and made up to resemble the Arab's deceased wife) visit Shahbandar's city where their arrival is followed with great interest by the reclusive art collector. Following a carefully worked out time schedule, Harry and Nicole eventually succeed in being invited to tea at Shahbandar's fortress-like home where Harry sets in motion his planned heist of the Chinese bust. Within the specialized genre of the "heist film," there are vast differences in tone and execution from one movie to the next that can range from dark (The Asphalt Jungle, 1950) to lighthearted (Topkapi, 1964). Of the latter category, Gambit (1966) is easily one of the more entertaining examples and it opened at a time when Michael Caine's popularity as a leading man was just starting to peak. Shirley MacLaine, in her autobiography, My Lucky Stars: A Hollywood Memoir takes the credit for his American film debut, stating, "Michael Caine was a cockney actor; I had liked him in The Ipcress File [1965]. He tickled me with his dry, sardonic wit, and I asked him if he'd come to America and star with me in Gambit. He came all right and cut a swath through the single girls in Hollywood like a rocket with no resistance. He'd report for work after a hard night's play, stagger into his trailer, blast his Beatles records up to hyperspace, and try to get some sleep." Still, he found time to give an amusing performance as a smugly superior con-artist surpassed by his more intuitive female accomplice. In his own autobiography, What's It All About?, Caine recalls his first impressions of MacLaine: "Although she had chosen me for the film role, we had still never met and to fix this she gave me a welcome party. I remember it was held in a big hotel ballroom somewhere. I arrived early, and when we were introduced, I was immediately enchanted by her; she made me feel instantly at home and welcome in this strange environment." The actor quickly adapted to the Hollywood fast-lane lifestyle, stating that "Gambit was proceeding so smoothly that it became secondary to the incredible social life I was leading. Ronald Neame, the director, was an expert at this sort of light frothy comedy, Shirley and I worked harmoniously together and Herbert Lom, who was the other star of the movie, was an expert and a sweetheart - so there was never a problem, apart from the fact that the movie was being shot in the Valley, which was notorious for its smog. Sometimes it was so thick you could not see a hundred yards in front of you, and it stung the eyes." Not all of Gambit was filmed in Hollywood though and there is some exotic location footage of Hong Kong featured in the first half of the film. The movie also opens with an elaborately staged heist (as imagined by Michael Caine) that is a playful twist on the climactic final act of most crime caper films. The fun comes in watching how the actual theft of the Chinese sculpture plays out in a totally unexpected way from the original plan. Audiences and critics alike were charmed by Gambit and it went on to garner three Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design and Best Sound. Producer: Leo Fuchs Director: Ronald Neame Screenplay: Jack Davies, Alvin Sargent Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, George C. Webb Cinematography: Clifford Stine Editing: Alma Macrorie Music: Maurice Jarre Cast: Shirley MacLaine (Nicole Chang), Michael Caine (Harold "Harry" Dean), Herbert Lom (Ahmad Shahbandar), Roger C. Carmel (Ram), Arnold Moss (Abdul). C-109m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jeff Stafford

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States on Video January 12, 1994

Released in United States Winter January 7, 1967

Remake of "Gambit" (USA/1966), directed by Ronald Neame and starring Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine, which was based on the short story "Who Is Mr. Dean?" by Sydney Carroll.

Anand Tucker was previously attached to direct.

Andre Harrell was previously attached to direct.

Bo Welch was previously attached to direct.

Burr Steers was previously attached to direct.

Released in United States Winter January 7, 1967

Released in United States on Video January 12, 1994

Jennifer Aniston and Ben Kingsley were previously mentioned to star.

Yann Samuell was previously attached to direct.

Previously set up at Universal Pictures.

Techniscope