Wednesday, June 11, 2014
'The biggest bundle of them all' DVD: Robert Wagner's "Ocean" Caper
Warner Archive shows especially good instincts regarding releasing the hilarious 1968 heist film "The biggest bundle of them all" at the beginning of the summer. This light-hearted Robert Wagner/Raquel Welch romp is at least as fun as anything starring Annette and Frankie.
"bundle" has the same wonderful spirit as the classic Frank Sinatra 1960 version of "Ocean's 11." The ragtag band, which includes uber-alluring sex kitten Raquel Welch, that is very loyal to Wagner's Harry Price is no Rat Pack but hold their own very well. This group is more akin to recruiting your drinking buddies from the neighborhood bar to form your gang.
The following clip, courtesy of YouTube, of an early scene in "bundle" is very typical of the fun and humor in the film.
"bundle," which is filmed on location in Naples and the environs, begins with Harry et al kidnapping retired mobster Cesare Celli with the objective of raising the relatively small amount that Price requires to get out a jam and avoid being put in a hole.
These elements add up to making "bundle" a wonderful example of a swinging '60s caper film. There are fashions of the era and wild action galore.
The kidnapping plot hilariously falling apart leads to Celli recruiting Price and his buddies to steal an upcoming shipment of precious metal from a train. On getting everyone "in" regarding the heist, Celli brings in a big gun (of course pun intended) in the form of the legendary criminal mastermind known as "The Professor." Legendary film gangster Edward G. Robinson plays that role.
Wagner, who makes this film in his "To Catch a Thief" days, does equally well as the charming leader Price; ultimately futile resistance regarding relinquishing some of that prestige to Celli provides especially good moments.
The primary tasks related to pulling off the heist consist of whipping Price's out-of-shape and overall gentle buddies into shape and planning the logistics of the heist itself. Needless to say, hilarity ensues on both fronts.
These efforts coincide regarding pulling a smaller job to raise the money needed to pull off the train job. This involves hilarity regarding a robbery of a busy restaurant.
The fact that hilarity also ensues regarding the big job itself is as predictable as things not going smoothly in the lead up to that caper. The fact that the gang must acquire both an airplane and a surplus tank provides some sense of the great humor regarding this climax.
All of this boils down to "bundle" being an entertaining well-filmed, written, directed, and cast film that is well worth going "in" on.
Anyone with questions or comments regarding "bundle" is welcome to email me; you can also connect on Twitter via @tvdvdguy.