Monday, March 16, 2009

MOVIES: #16 Harry In Your Pocket

One of my great discoveries this past year was a copy of 1973's Harry In Your Pocket, the story of two young grifters, the pro pickpocket and his mentor/partner. It's all about learning the art of pickpocketing. After seeing it, I'm betting you walk around with a hand over your wallet for weeks.

This is a early seventies movie. It was probably filmed much earlier, as the fashions tend to run to the hot pants era that spanned the end of the sixties into the very early seventies. Why's that important? Trish Van Devere. Having just married George C. Scott at the time of the movie's release, she was a bit of an attention-getter. Absolutely gorgeous, great legs and she shows them off in this movie with hot pants and mini-dresses aplenty.

Van Devere isn't the only scenery. There's LOTS of what makes places like Salt Lake City, Seattle and Vancouver beautiful. Lots of great shots of ferry boat travel, too. An absolute advertisement for each place. And really, in the more than 30 years since, those facts haven't changed much.

As for the movie, Van Devere and Michael Sarrazin are the young grifters. They meet-cute with one of the master pickpockets of the day, played with relish by James Coburn. He was hot at the time, coming off his Flint movie series, and was nearly as popular as Sean Connery in the movie spy business. Here, he's Harry of title fame. The fourth main character is Harry's mentor Casey, played with pitch-perfect precision by Walter Pidgeon. Casey is getting on in years, but he's still spry enough to participate in Harry's work. And he's a darn good teacher, as the kids soon learn.

The movie DOES turn into a primer on pickpocketing. The young 'uns get their lessons, find themselves wanting to expand and leave the nest a little early, and the end comes when Casey's skills and mental faculties start to break down. There comes a moment when the pickpocket team comes apart and decisions have to be made as to who goes to jail and who doesn't.

It's a good ending when justice DOES prevail in this movie. All the same, I've separated much of my wallet's contents ever since. And, when walking through crowds, I DO tend to look penniless, while keeping my hand close to where the money is.

NOTE: A word of warning. I don't think this movie is out on DVD. You'll have to catch it on late night TV. If you get a REALLY good copy, let me know. Mine's only so-so.

No comments: