Thursday, January 06, 2011

Script review – “The Thief Who Came to Dinner” by Walter Hill (1972)

An early work from Hill – it’s very professional, moves along smoothly, and the dialogue snaps and crackles (he’s good on romantic banter, something he didn’t do that often in his films). But it’s a lame story. That’s not Hill’s fault, it was based on a novel: the hero is Webster, a computer programmer who quits his job and becomes a jewel thief out of boredom. But not chess any jewel thief – he’s “the chess burglar”, at which point you’d be forgiven for asking, “didn’t David Niven make this film in 1939?” Even then it was old – incredibly smart, handsome jewel thieves who only steal from rich people, and who have aliases, and win chess games… And there’s a dogged insurance agent who’s after him and the two men come to respect each other… Yawn, snore. The thief has an ex-wife who you think is going to be this important character when she appears in the third act but they don’t do anything with her. Also the love interest character of Laura needed to do something more – betray him, or turn into a proper thief herself, or do a scam.

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