By Richard Winters
My Rating: 7 out of 10
4-Word Review: He breaks the bank.
Barney Lincoln (Warren Beatty) is a well-off playboy who has come up with a clever scheme that will allow him to win at cards at any casino along the Riviera. He does this by breaking into a card printing company called Kaleidoscope and marking the back of the master plates used to print their playing cards so when he attends the casinos later on he will know exactly what the cards are by reading his own small markings on the back of them. Angel (Susannah York) is a cagy and flirtatious woman who recognizes Barney’s card skills as a crucial link to help her father (Clive Revill) who is a Scotland Yard Inspector and looking to nab the notorious Dominion (Eric Porter) who is a skilled card player himself.
The idea of breaking into a card printing company and marking the plates is a clever one, but highly improbable. After all if it was so easy to do such as it is portrayed in this movie then wouldn’t somebody else have tried it already? Personally as a viewer the markings were so small that I could not spot them and the Scotland Yard inspector needed a magnifying glass to see them making me wonder how Barney using only his naked eye could make them out when the cards were clear across the table. Also, it seems unrealistic that every casino would use the same cards by the same printing company as there has to be more than one card playing printing company out there to choose from.
Beatty is his usual detached and cool self, which to some degree gets annoying. You want to see this guy sweat a little, but he never does and the character borders on being arrogant and too cocky. However, the intense scene at the end where Barney is playing a high stakes poker game with Dominion is where Beatty’s cool demeanor comes in perfectly particularly when he shows absolutely no facial expressions while everyone else nervously awaits to see what is under the one crucial card that has yet to be turned over.
York is quite good, but sadly underused. The way she initially toys with Beatty a notorious ladies man both on and off screen is delightful and I wanted to see more of it. Their first date culminates with her sitting on top of a cow and he on a hay bale, which can’t be topped, but then her character disappears and when she comes back she is much weaker and less interesting expressing her ‘love’ for the Beatty character like she is just another vapid chick and without the fun edge at the beginning. She does look very attractive here and I loved seeing her in the strapless gown.
Revill is amusing as the much put-upon inspector who has a thing for toy steam engines, but he looks much too young to be playing York’s father and in real-life was only 9 years older than her. Porter adds campy panache as the villain while sporting a most groovy comb-over.
The opening title sequence is done in a way that looks similar to an actual kaleidoscope, which was cool and each scene transitions with a kaleidoscope design. The lavish and garish sets used as an interior backdrop for Porter’s mansion are eye-popping and I loved all the tunnels they have to drive through just to get there. On a mindless level this proves to be pleasant fluff, but the shoot-out and chase sequence at the end gets a little too James Bond-like and is out-of-place with the rest of the film.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Released: September 22, 1966
Runtime: 1Hour 43Minutes
Director: Jack Smight
Studio: Warner Brothers
Available: DVD (Warner Archive)