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Even though this is a real good and enjoyable movie, I still have no doubt about it that it still works out way better in the theaters, as a stage-play. The dialog, the settings, the acting, the story, its progress, it's all very stage-like and sometimes stuff like this doesn't translate to the screen very well but this movie still manages to work out well, not in the least thanks to its performances by Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine.

They really have to carry this movie, almost entirely on their own. Of course it should come as no surprise that their acting is just great but luckily they really have a solid dynamic as well.

You can basically see this movie as an elaborate cat and mouse game, in which two persons constantly try to outsmart each other. It's not as innocent as it sounds though, since it actually also involves murder. The movie is entirely set at just one location but luckily there are plenty of developments to keep things fresh and interesting, even while the movie is over 2 hours long.

Probably the most underrated aspect about this movie remains its cinematography by Oswald Morris though. Chances are you won't pay much attention to it, since it's mostly quite subtle but it perfectly captures the mood of the story and helps to make it feel that you are watching a stage-play on screen. It also does a good job at dropping certain hints at times, or to divert attention to a certain object.

Despite its serious story aspects, the movie still works mostly out as an entertaining one. It has a fun undertone to it, once the movie start to develop into a battle of wits. Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine all handled the material very well and I bet they also had some fun with doing this movie. It's the sort of movie that seems to be enjoyable to do for an actor; a movie were they have lots of screen time, with little to none distractions to its story, lots of dialog and they basically have to make this movie and let it work out as both something engaging and interesting enough.

Interestingly enough, 35 years later Michael Caine would also star in the remake of this movie, directed by Kenneth Branagh, playing the Laurence Olivier role this time around.

Maybe this movie- and especially its approach, is not for everyone (actually I myself wasn't always too fond of it) but it's quality is still high enough to wholeheartedly recommend it.

8/10

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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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