Friday, September 3, 2010

Why does that 'one last job' never goes well?

The Squeeze (aka "Diamond Thieves", "Gretchko", "The Rip-Off" and "The Heist") (1978)
Starring: Lee Van Cleef, Karen Black, Edward Albert, and Lionel Stander
Director: Antonio Margheriti (or Anthony M. Dawson, depending on source)
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

Chris Gretchko (Van Cleef), legendary but long-retired safe cracker comes out of retirement to help the son of an old friend (Albert) who needs to steal some diamonds for German gangsters to extract himself from trouble. He's barely arrived in New York City before the crossing and double-crossing begins and "the simple job" starts spinning out of control.

"The Squeeze" is a pretty straight-forward crime drama, with a couple of surprising twists--surprising because most of the movie is so by the numbers that what might seem like a mild twist in other movies is quite surprising in this one. Still, the script is well-paced, the complications arising on cue, and the revelations of the various double-crosses, lies, and deceptions undertaken by the various characters are all handled well.

The cast are all good, with Van Cleef (cool-beyond-cool, as usual, but in a role that fit his age... he was obviously a sensible actor who didn't try to hang onto the youthful tough guy parts past the due date) and Black (as a studiously ditzy New Yorker who ends up as Van Cleef's helper) being particularly excellent. The film, however, is severely crippled by a soundtrack that is so 1979 and low-budget Italian that it's painful. (There are also, if comments on can be believed, some really badly edited pan-and-scan prints of this one floating around; the version I saw was in excellent shape, and can be found in the Brentwood DVD four-pack "Perfect Heists", along with three other classic heist movies.)

If you can be sure you're not getting a chopped-up print, I think this is a fairly enjoyable film... it's not great, but it's good enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment