A Touch of Larceny (1959)
“About Money and Women and How To Get ‘Em…With a Very Special Touch!”
Director: Guy Hamilton
Cast: James Mason, George Sanders, Vera Miles
Synopsis: Philandering Commander Max Easton, now desk-bound and under-worked in the Admiralty, finds he suddenly needs to make some money when he falls for American Virginia Killain.
Chances are you haven’t heard of A Touch of Larceny, but it’s well worth an hour-and-a-half of your time. Screen smoothies James Mason and George Sanders do battle with sublime good manners as they vie for the hand of the rather lovely Vera Miles in this diverting tale of press intrusion and media manipulation that is as timely today as it obviously was back then. Mason’s a rather roguish Admiralty Commander who decides to fake his disappearance in order to drum up press speculation over his defection to the Russians so that he can sue them all for libel when he reappears in order to obtain enough cash to make Vera want to marry him. Mason is surprisingly good in a light-hearted role that doesn’t really seem to suit him on paper, and his performance is charming enough that you want him to succeed even though you know he’s in the wrong, while poor old George has to suffer the viewer’s disapproval even though he’s theoretically the good guy. The twists in the plot are quite ingenious, meaning you’re never quite able to predict how Mason’s character is going to get himself out of the mire once his fool-proof plan begins to unravel.
(Reviewed 7th September 2011)