A would-be criminal is taken in by a professional pickpocket, who teaches him how pickpockets work in teams.
"Just because you stole my watch doesn't give you the right to tell me what to do."
When you have a con man movie, or a movie about a bank heist - you're automatically put into the morally ambiguous position of rooting for the bad guy. When you get movies like 'Ocean's 11' or the original 'The Thomas Crown Affair' it can be really fun to see how someone might pull off a big score and get away with it - especially since it's an activity 99.9% of most people simply wouldn't succeed at. When a movie like 'Harry In Your Pocket' comes along and you're introduced to the world of international pickpocketing - the idea of rooting for the bad guys starts to spread itself a bit too thin to be either thrilling or of much fun.
Ray (Michael Sarrazin) is a small timer pickpocket who goes for people's watches and loose change and then pawns off what he gets. After botching an attempt to rob Sandy (Trish Van Devere) of her watch he meets a new love interest instead of someone who'd normally call the cops. Sandy's keen on learning the trade but Ray is only an amateur. These two criminal love birds are going to need someone bigger, someone who knows what they're doing, someone who can teach them. Ray and Sandy need a guy like Harry (James Coburn).
Harry is the big time. The man has been hitting marks and taking their cash without them knowing it for decades. At his right hand is Casey (Walter Pidgeon) the man who takes the drops and fences the goods. It just so happens that Harry and Casey are looking for two ready and willing individuals to help them in their international schemes of ripping off hapless tourists and local citizens. The only problem is Harry isn't too keen about Ray. Ray is clunky, he lacks the finesse needed to pull the jobs well and get out of the way before the mark gets wise to the fact they've been ripped off. Casey on the other hand sees a lot of potential in the young man and persuades Harry to let them on.
The reality of the situation is that Harry doesn't want Ray on the team, he wants Sandy. With eyes of his own design, he makes things increasingly more difficult for Ray to the point that it becomes impossible for the young man to not screw things up. While that puts the entire team at risk, it does push Sandy closer towards Harry - which Harry is all too happy about. The fun and games get serious when Casey is pinched after a botched drop. In order to get their friends out of jail and still have enough dough to blow town, Harry, Sandy and the disgruntled Ray are going to have to band together to pull off one of the biggest mass pickpocketing schemes ever imagined.
When you plug in a movie that happens to have the always awesome James Coburn in the lead, it's natural to expect to get something groovy along the lines of 'In Like Flint,' 'Our Man Flint,' or even something goofier like 'What Did You Do In The War, Daddy?,' or even something approaching his character in 'The Magnificent Seven.' However when the main plot thread centers around international pickpockets, things start to feel stretched a bit too thin. Part of the problem this film from Director Bruce Geller (of 'Mission Impossible' fame) has is that from the outset the audience has to suspend a lot of disbelief. Small timers Ray and Sandy are believable, they steal crap that is worthless and make little. Harry on the other hand lives a decadent lifestyle with massive luxury hotel suites, wears thousand dollar suits and only eats in four-star restaurants. Even when you learn that on their best day the team scored $1400, it still strains credibility that they could ever afford the life they're living.
Over all the film is a decent way to spend an hour and a half, but the prevailing problem this movie has on top of believability is that it doesn't set the stakes very high. And as criminals - they don't have a central mark. Harry, Casey, Ray and Sandy don't have that big whale of a character to go after that is inherently a worse criminal than they are to make their criminal activities seem justifiable in the eyes of the audience. They go after confused tourists or distracted locals and skin them dry. They're not very endearing. The inner mechanics of a pickpocket team should have proved to be more interesting than what is spelled out in this movie. Considering the cast I was expecting fireworks and what I got was one of those ashy snakes that burns out after five seconds.
James Coburn can make any movie amazing with just his smile, and this film really feels like it's banking on him to save the day - only his character really isn't that rich. The real drama of interest is watching Michael Sarrazin and Walter Pidgeon play off each other as Michael's character Ray finds a true father figure in Pidgeon's Casey. Ray is a man desperate to learn and eager to please and Casey is a man at the outer edge of his prime and wants to pass down knowledge to a good man who deserves it. Sadly they don't nearly have enough one-on-one interaction to salvage the ship. I know it sounds like I'm hating on the film, and I don't mean to. Over all it's pretty entertaining and I dug it for the most part, but I know there is a better movie somewhere in this concept just waiting to burst forth. As it stands it's just pretty good when if there'd been some retooling of the script and the stakes had been raised, 'Harry In Your Pocket' could have been a genre classic.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Harry In Your Pocket' makes its Blu-ray debut thanks to Kino Lorber and their Studio Classics line. Pressed on a Region A locked BD25 disc, it comes housed in a standard Blu-ray case and the disc opens directly to the main menu.
'Harry In Your Pocket' may not be the greatest catalogue transfer ever, but it's many attributes are pleasing to the eye. As film grain has been nicely retained and not scrubbed clear, detail levels are pretty fantastic through and through. From clothing to hair to set design, everything looks natural and pronounced wonderfully highlighting the look of 1973. Colors are very strong and have plenty of presence and pop to them, especially primaries. Flesh tones are also nice and even without making the cast look sunburnt or as if they'd eaten a bad burrito. Black levels are very strong and provide a nice sense of dimensional space with only slight crush during a couple particularly dark scenes. The print over all is in decent shape, a few expected nicks and specks here and there. The only real problem is the film has some jitter issues about ever 15 minutes or so where the image looks like it wiggles for second but then stabilizes. All around not a terrible irritation, but one worth mentioning.
For a relatively soft and somber film, 'Harry In Your Pocket' gets a lot of punch out of its DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track. Since this is definitely a mono track plugged into both stereo channels, imaging is a bit constrained, but there is just enough presence to at least suggest some sound element movement. Most of the film is relatively dialogue driven, but the fantastic Lalo Schifrin score comes through with absolute clarity. Part of me wishes this had been a Twilight Time release just so we could get a isolated score track, but even with solid dialogue levels and the presence of sound effects, one can still appreciate the music and what it brings to the show. All around this is a solid audio presentation and isn't stuck with any detectable age related anomalies.
Original Trailer: (HD 1:59) It's a fun trailer that nicely sets up the idea of a pickpocket being on the loose in the theater.
'Harry In Your Pocket' is just one of those movies that on the surface appears to be a romp through the dubious criminal dealings of pickpockets. While it does cover a lot of aspects of that particular trade - it can hardly be considered a romp. The film has its moments and the cast is genuinely very good, but I'll be honest when saying the end results didn't live up to my hopes. With a solid HD A/V presentation and only a trailer for an extra, I'm calling it as being worth a look. Fans of the film should be very happy with this Blu-ray presentation.