The Happy Thieves

  • 1962
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Drama

This somewhat-muddled comedy-crime drama is a hodgepodge of splintered episodes without a strong connecting theme, but it boasts the once-considerable talents of Harrison, Hayworth, and Valli. Harrison is a dapper art thief who enraptures Valli, a wealthy duchess, and then steals a priceless painting by Velazquez from her estate. Hayworth, who is Harrison's...read more

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This somewhat-muddled comedy-crime drama is a hodgepodge of splintered episodes without a strong connecting theme, but it boasts the once-considerable talents of Harrison, Hayworth, and Valli. Harrison is a dapper art thief who enraptures Valli, a wealthy duchess, and then steals a

priceless painting by Velazquez from her estate. Hayworth, who is Harrison's paramour and aide-in-crime, smuggles the painting to Paris. Here, however, it falls into the hands of Aslan, a berserk art dealer who intends to possess the world's greatest paintings by hook or (mostly) by crook. All of

this scheming is too much for Hayworth, who decides to quit the art-theft racket, but Harrison keeps her in the fold by walking her to the altar. Once back in Madrid, the two are approached by Aslan, who shows them photos of Harrison stealing the Velazquez and threatens exposure unless Harrison

steals him a Goya from the Prado. Harrison succumbs to the blackmail and agrees. Wiseman, a master art forger in league with Harrison, then paints a duplicate of the Goya that Aslan has selected, and the thieves make the switch during a bullfight. To add to the confusion, Aslan ruthlessly kills a

matador in the ring. When Harrison, Wiseman, and Hayworth take the painting to Aslan, they find him murdered--by Valli, who has been hunting for her Velazquez. Police are hot on the thieves' heels and arrest the lot. When it appears that Wiseman will be sent to prison for 10 years, Harrison takes

the blame and goes off to prison, mostly to win Hayworth's favor. Of course, she will wait for him.

It's too bad that the producers didn't wait for a better script; this one goes in too many directions at the same time. It attempts to turn the story into THE LAVENDER HILL MOB, but it has one foot in the heavy dramatics of THE ASPHALT JUNGLE. The plot is confusing, and too many incidents are

disconnected. Valli's avenging-angel image, for example--which appears out of nowhere at the end--is simply mystifying. It's sad to see the once-beauteous Hayworth and Valli so unglamorous. Unkind age hardened faces that used to soften male hearts around the world. Shot on location in and around

Madrid, Spain, this was both the first and the last production of the short-lived Hillworth company, a collaboration between Hayworth and her fifth husband, James Hill (formerly of Hecht-Hill-Lancaster). A second picture had been planned and extensively publicized, but Hill and Hayworth were

divorced before the release of THE HAPPY THIEVES, and the follow-up film was canceled on a day's notice. Hayworth's daughter by playboy-prince Aly Khan has a bit role.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: This somewhat-muddled comedy-crime drama is a hodgepodge of splintered episodes without a strong connecting theme, but it boasts the once-considerable talents of Harrison, Hayworth, and Valli. Harrison is a dapper art thief who enraptures Valli, a wealthy… (more)

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