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Bud Yorkin

Review: The Thief Who Came to Dinner

[Originally published in Movietone News 23, May-June 1973]

The spectre of Blake Edwards hangs over The Thief Who Came to Dinner because two of his frequent collaborators worked on it and because Edwards himself might have made the film go, which Bud Yorkin hasn’t managed to do. Thief cries out for Edwards’s special knack of imparting a combined sense of cool, elegant modernity, subdued emotionality, and unpolemical bitterness that implies a previous history for the characters and a meaningful present-tense context for the generic games being played on screen. Yorkin and his screenwriter Walter Hill (who also worked on Hickey and Boggs and The Getaway) can’t decide whether to go for suspense, comedy, or romance (Edwards could have had all three with delirious simultaneity) and end by providing little of each.

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DVD: ‘Come Blow Your Horn’

The 1960s was filled with films featuring swinging single men (or even, God forbid, cheating married men), most of them between 30 and 50 living in lavish bachelor pads with fully stocked bars and a revolving door of younger women passing through to their bedrooms:Boeing, BoeingA Guide For the Married ManWhat’s New PussycatHow to Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life, any James Bond movie and oh so many films with Dean Martin (the Matt Helm movies) and Frank Sinatra (Tony Rome and friends). These aren’t films about the sexual revolution, mind you. These men are unapologetic players and the women are either playmates or long-suffering good girls waiting for the man-boys to grow up and commit.

Sure enough, Sinatra is the ring-a-ding bachelor of the 1963 comedy Come Blow Your Horn, a film based on a Neil Simon play where sex comedy collides with the coming of age comedy of 1950s family values. Sinatra anchors the film as Alan Baker, the runaway son and free-wheeling sales executive of his father’s company (the biggest manufacturer of plastic fruit on the East Coast!) and now mentor to his 21-year-old kid brother Buddy, played by Tony Bill in his feature debut. Buddy has just fled his suburban family home on the tree-lined streets of Queens and landed at his brother’s super-cool New York City bachelor apartment, a lavish fantasy of wood paneling, wall-to-wall carpets, a fully-stocked bar, and a living room the size of a small ballroom: a playground that is clearly beyond his means.

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