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  Kaleidoscope What's On The Cards
Year: 1966
Director: Jack Smight
Stars: Warren Beatty, Susannah York, Clive Revill, Eric Porter, Murray Melvin, George Sewell, Stanley Meadows, John Junkin, Larry Taylor, Yootha Joyce, Jane Birkin, George Murcell, Anthony Newlands, Peter Blythe, Sean Lynch, John Bennett, Michael Balfour
Genre: Comedy, Thriller, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Barney Lincoln (Warren Beatty) is out in his chauffeur driven, open top car one day in London when he is caught in a traffic jam, and notices a young woman coming to the aid of another lady who is being shouted down by a truck driver whose path she is blocking. This woman (Susannah York) takes a part out of the truck engine and walks off, intriguing Barney enough to follow her on foot. He makes an excuse to talk to her, one thing leads to another and that evening they are enjoying dinner, but come the end of their time together she tells him that she doesn't wish to see him anymore...

And that would appear to be the end of that, except that it's the beginning of our story here, one of those oh-so-sixties caper movies. Around this time, Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole were stealing a million, Michael Caine and Shirley MacLaine were playing their gambit, and just about everyone else was showing up at the Casino Royale - indeed, some have noted that the latter was what Beatty and York might as well have been doing, as there were parallels between the plot of the Ian Fleming James Bond novel and what went on here. Yes, it was the game of cards that the characters were concerned with.

But even if that didn't appeal to you, it was simple enough to follow and proved very entertaining in its flashy fashion, complete with sitar accompanied scene dissolves and more red double decker buses than you could shake a stick at. Many described this as a victim to the allure of Swinging London of the day, and it was so keen to look up to date that it hurt, naturally looking utterly quaint and dated within a couple of years, if that, yet that provides quite some measure of appeal to the modern nostalgist, not to mention those who liked the kind of plot where impossibly cool people outsmarted each other, with Beatty rarely looking quite so at home.

Never mind that he wanted to show himself as a serious actor too, he could do that elsewhere, in Kaleidoscope he just had to be the movie star which was something he could pull off with great elegance, mixed with his boyish, oddly slapdash but always together charm. He had a neat match in York, another performer who yearned to be taken more seriously than only another pretty face in a decade full of them, though there was nothing sombre about what she was required to do here. Even being decorative, however, she brightened up a tale that occasionally allowed some of the dark of the scheming it depicted to swallow the light for a while. At first, we think we're in for about a hundred minutes of Barney's ingenious plan, but there's more to this.

That plan being to break into a playing card manufacturing plant, the one which supplies Europe's casinos, and mark the decks to his own specifications, thereby enabling him to win millions of whatever currency he's gambling in. We later learn he's already a millionaire (of course he is) and is doing this for kicks to liven up his jaded existence, but then Scotland Yard's Inspector McGinnis (Clive Revill) picks him up and threatens him with prosecution if he doesn't go along with another scheme. That is to set up international criminal and slippery customer Harry Dominion (Eric Porter enjoying himself), who tends to eliminate his rivals with a flame thrower, so we know Barney is in trouble even by agreeing to this high stakes game of poker. This business is fairly suspenseful, and contributes to an air of a good show all round - all right, nobody thought it was a classic, but it was satisfying and attractive, with just the right twist of grit to give it an edge. Music by Stanley Myers.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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