Grand Slam Reviews
[i]Grand Slam[/i] is a damn good heist film, so I can write about that just fine. I love heist films, and can even be entertained by crummy ones. Great ones, like [i]Rififi[/i], or really, really good ones, like the original [i]Italian Job[/i] or [i]The Taking of Pelham One Two Three[/i], I can watch over and over. I'm sure I'll be watching[i] Grand Slam[/i] again, and that's the sign that it's one of the best.
Edward G. Robinson plays a school teacher on the verge of retirement who goes to a childhood friend, now a mobster, to get together four men to break into a bank carrying ten million dollars in diamonds. Robinson has the whole thing planned, and all the carefully-picked team has to do is follow his orders. There's the safecracker (Georges Rigaud), the ladies' man (Robert Hoffman), the trained killer (Klaus Kinski) and the tinkerer (Riccardo Cucciolla).
It's safe to say that things don't go as planned, and the heist gets much more complicated when they discover that the bank has just installed a new security system. There's also trouble when the ladies' man has problems with his job, getting into the purse of the bank manager (Janet Leigh) who turns out to be a cold fish to his charms. There's tension, high wire acts, a beating-the-laser-detector sequence that's miles better than the faux-fu of Charlie's Angels, double-crosses and a fair share of twists, including a final twist that's unpredictable even now.
The cast is fine, especially the genial Robinson, the creepy Kinski and the debonaire Rigaud, a familar genre film character actor whose dignity makes it perfectly believable that one of the world's best safecrackers works as a butler. The setting helps as well, with the entire heist set in Rio de Janiero during Carnivale, as the team must cross over the parade to get to their booty.
Okay, so it's not always believable, but then again, what heist film is? It's as dark as [i]Rififi [/i]but still manages a sense of fun, even as the leading characters start to get bumped off. While it never manages to be as tense and exciting as the finest examples of the genre, it's consistantly entertaining during its' just-under-two-hour running time. The Ennio Morricone score is great too--anyone know where I can get a copy of the soundtrack?
On the DVD box, it's compared to, among other things, [i]The Score[/i], a lame recent flick that this is much better than. [i]Grand Slam[/i] is an underseen, clever little caper flick that deserves better than its' non-existant reputation, and Blue Underground's DVD should change that. It's now available as part of a two-pack with Fabio Testi's [i]Revolver[/i] for under $20, so check it out. It's worth it.