A retired teacher has spent 30 years of his life working opposite a diamond firm in a Rio de Janeiro school, during this time he has drawn up a complex fool proof plan to steal diamonds worth US$10 million (or US$58 million in today's money). To achieve this he hires four experts; a team leader, a safe cracker, an electronics expert and a playboy (to charm the female secretary who holds the safe-room key). The four head for Brasil and set about their roles but not without complications...
A successful heist film should be entertaining and exciting as well as having a solid, plausible plot. Although Grand Slam takes great pain with the latter it has some serious pacing issues throughout. The film gets off to a quick start with the school teacher (played by famous Hollywood actor Edward G. Robinson) elaborating his plan to criminally involved businessman Mark Milford (Adolfo Celi from early Bond film Thunderball) and then meeting the four criminals. However once they get to Rio at the 20 minute mark, the film slows down drastically as the three criminals start to elaborately prepare all their safe cracking techniques and scouting out the locations. The only sequences that keep the film moving are the actions of playboy Jean-Paul Audry (Robert Hoffman) as he tries and fails to seduce the secretary (Janet Leigh of Psycho fame) and the tension of just whether or not he will succeed works well. When the specialists eventually put their plan into action, the operation takes a good 45 minutes, much of it in complete silence (to avoid the sound sensors in the walls) and although these sequences could be very tense if presented well, they just come off as boring here. The pace only picks up in the last quarter as the crooks try to escape and the plot twists and turns unexpectedly.
It is clear that a lot of effort went into the film, the sets and locations all look great, including Milford's elaborate office with projectors, screens and card racks hidden behind fake book cases, while the gadgets used in the break in all look great. Director Giuliano Montaldo although doing nothing revolutionary, brings solid camerawork, and the 2.35:1 frame is consistently filled with action, especially the sequences shot at the carnival, reminiscent of Jess Franco's scenes shot for Venus in Furs (1969). Although boasting an Ennio Morricone soundtrack, apart from a catchy main theme, the film is pretty poorly scored – those familiar with British heist film The Italian Job (1969) or the Mission Impossible TV series/film will know the importance of an action packed score for the tense heist scenes and this is what Grand Slam is sorely lacking.
A well written plot, good acting and great attention to detail are sadly wasted – half an hour shorter and with more music, Grand Slam could have been a lot of fun, sadly it is quite a chore to sit through much of its run-time and so this film is not recommended.
|Anyone famous in it?||Klaus Kinski - one of the biggest names in Euro-cult cinema, from Sartana (1968) to Fitzcarraldo (1982).
Janet Leigh - victim of the most famous shower stabbing in history in Psycho (1960).
Adolfo Celi, very recognisable Italian actor, who often played mafia bosses or clergy men.
|Directed by anyone interesting?||Giuliano Montaldo - almost unknown director with few internationally known titles, biggest film credit: second unit director on Battle of Algiers (1965).|
|Any violence?||A few kills but no blood.
|Who is it for?
||Fans of eurocinema may enjoy this picture but although fun in parts, it is often boring, and not recommended.
|Good soundtrack?||Ennio Morricone provides a good title theme, but the film lacks music when it most needed.
|Visuals||Original Aspect Ratio - 2.35:1. Anamorphically Enhanced. Colour
The picture quality is decent, some light grain throughout, some occasional print damage. Always Watchable.
|Audio||Original English mono - Dolby Digital - sounds fine, no hiss.
French mono dub track also sounds fine.
|Run Time||Main Feature: 1hr 59m 21s|
|Extras||The disc includes:
|Packing||Standard Amaray case|
|Region||Region 0 - NTSC
|Other regions?||Italian release, no additional extras of note.|
|Cuts?||Believed to be fully uncut. Print used is English language, all credits are in English.