Gambit (1966 film)

Last updated
Gambit (1966 film) poster.jpg
original film poster
Directed by Ronald Neame
Produced byLeo L. Fuchs
Screenplay by Jack Davies and
Alvin Sargent
Story by Sidney Carroll
Music by Maurice Jarre
Cinematography Clifford Stine
Edited by Alma Macrorie
Universal Pictures
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • December 21, 1966 (1966-12-21)(limited)
  • January 7, 1967 (1967-01-07)(United States)
Running time
109 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,500,000 (US/ Canada) [1]

Gambit is a 1966 American comedy heist film starring Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine as two criminals involved in an elaborate plot centered on a priceless antiquity owned by millionaire Mr. Shahbandar, played by Herbert Lom. It was nominated for three Academy Awards.


The film was advertised with the tagline, "Go Ahead: Tell the End (It's Too Hilarious to Keep Secret) But Please Don't Tell the Beginning!"

Gambit was directed by Ronald Neame from a screenplay by Jack Davies and Alvin Sargent from the original story of Sidney Carroll.

A remake was released in 2012, with a script by Joel and Ethan Coen.


Cockney cat burglar Harry Tristan Dean (Michael Caine) and his sculptor friend Emile Fournier (John Abbott) discover exotic Eurasian showgirl Nicole Chang (Shirley MacLaine) in a crowded Hong Kong restaurant. She bears an incredible resemblance both to the late wife of the world's richest man, an Arab named Ahmad Shahbandar (Herbert Lom), as well as to a priceless ancient Chinese statuette that he owns; Harry and Emile want to use her in a scheme to rob Shahbandar of it. Harry's mere explanation to Emile of the caper—in which Nicole meekly obeys instructions without even a single expression—is flawless.

Harry, Nicole (who initially resisted the offer), and Emile arrive in the Middle Eastern city of Dammuz; the former two assume the identities of Sir Harold Dean and Lady Nicole Dean and check into Shahbandar's hotel where Shahbandar himself lives in the penthouse. Harry's plot does not at all follow his imagined scenario; Shahbandar himself discovers Harry's deceitfulness, and only plays along with Harry and Nicole to see what they are plotting. She is aghast when she learns what Harry wants to steal, but goes along because she is falling in love with him.

Shahbandar invites them to dinner; Harry refuses but persuades Nicole to accept, so she will occupy Shahbandar while he will steal the statuette. Nicole, however, realizes that Shahbandar suspects them, and slips away to warn Harry. Working together, they steal the statuette without triggering the alarm; but a misplaced impulse afterwards causes Nicole to accidentally trigger the alarm anyway. At Harry's insistence, Nicole flees to the airport to return separately to Hong Kong, while he hides from the guards; he watches as they also check a secret compartment in the wall of the room, where the real statuette is hidden: the one in Harry's hands is a copy.

Shahbandar then rechecks the secret compartment, finds the fake, and has Nicole arrested at the airport. At breakfast, he tells her that his agents have found Harry in Hong Kong; he too will be arrested unless the real statuette is returned. She is free to go with a dossier of Harry if she takes that message to him.

At Emile's workshop in Hong Kong, Harry reveals that he actually hid the statuette inside a Buddha statue Emile had sold Shahbandar, and left the hotel a telegraph of this while she was traveling. In the least, Harry only wanted to give the appearance that it had been stolen, as no one yet knows when Shahbandar will reverse that credibility. Emile, in fact, made an exact replica of the statuette as well as the decoy that Shahbandar had on display; and with three prospective buyers already waiting, Harry and Emile must now sell the replica as the real thing.

Nicole proves unhappy at Harry's criminal lifestyle, so Harry smashes the replica to prove she is more important to him than his life of crime. She and Harry leave Emile supposedly disconsolate—until he receives a telephone call afterwards, happily starts making arrangements with a buyer, and takes one of more replicas of the statuette.



The film was nominated for three Academy Awards: [2] [3]


In 2012, a new Gambit was released. This version co-starred Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz in the leads, with Diaz's character now a Texas rodeo performer who is coaxed by Firth into coming to England and attempting to con a billionaire played by Alan Rickman. The script for this adaptation was written by Joel and Ethan Coen.

See also

Related Research Articles

Michael Caine English actor

Sir Michael Caine is an English actor. Known for his distinctive Cockney accent, he has appeared in more than 130 films during a career spanning over 60 years, and is considered a British film icon. As of February 2017, the films in which he has appeared have grossed over $7.8 billion worldwide. He is ranked at No. 20 on the list of highest-grossing box office stars.

<i>The Ladykillers</i> 1955 crime comedy film directed by Alexander Mackendrick

The Ladykillers is a 1955 British black comedy crime film directed by Alexander Mackendrick for Ealing Studios. It stars Alec Guinness, Cecil Parker, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, Danny Green, Jack Warner, and Katie Johnson as the old lady, Mrs. Wilberforce.

<i>Alfie</i> (1966 film) 1966 film by Lewis Gilbert

Alfie is a 1966 British romantic comedy-drama film directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring Michael Caine. It is an adaptation by Bill Naughton of his own 1966 novel and 1963 play of the same name. The film was released by Paramount Pictures.

Shirley MacLaine American actress, singer, dancer, activist, and author

Shirley MacLaine is an American actress, singer, author, activist, and former dancer. Known for her portrayals of quirky, headstrong, eccentric women, MacLaine is the recipient of numerous accolades including an Academy Award, two British Academy Film Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, and a Primetime Emmy Award.

Colin Firth British actor

Colin Andrew Firth is an English actor. He is the recipient of several accolades, including an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, two BAFTA Awards, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival. In 2010, Firth's portrayal of King George VI in Tom Hooper's The King's Speech won him the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Rat Pack Media term for an informal group of entertainers centered on the Las Vegas casino scene in the 1960s

The Rat Pack was an informal group of entertainers, the second iteration of which ultimately made movies and appeared together in Las Vegas casino venues. They originated as a group of A-list show business friends who met casually at the Los Angeles home of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. In the 1960s, the group featured Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Joey Bishop, and Peter Lawford, among others. They appeared together on stage and in films in the early 1960s, including the movies Ocean's 11, and Sergeants 3; after Lawford's expulsion, they filmed Robin and the 7 Hoods with Bing Crosby in what was to be Lawford's role. Sinatra, Martin, and Davis were regarded as the group's lead members after Bogart's death.

Herbert Lom British actor

Herbert Charles Angelo Kuchačevič ze Schluderpacheru, known professionally as Herbert Lom, was a Czech–born British actor who moved to the United Kingdom in 1939. In a career lasting more than 60 years, he generally appeared in character roles, often portraying criminals or suave villains in his younger years, and professional men as he aged. Highly versatile, he proved a skilled comic actor in The Pink Panther franchise.

<i>Bewitched</i> (2005 film)

Bewitched is a 2005 American romantic comedy fantasy film co-written, produced, and directed by Nora Ephron, and starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell alongside an ensemble cast featuring Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Jason Schwartzman, Kristin Chenoweth, Heather Burns, Jim Turner, Stephen Colbert, David Alan Grier, Michael Badalucco, Carole Shelley, and Steve Carell. The film follows an out of work actor (Ferrell) who discovers, during the remake of Bewitched, that his co-star (Kidman) is an actual witch.

<i>How to Steal a Million</i> 1966 American heist comedy film

How to Steal a Million is a 1966 American heist comedy film directed by William Wyler and starring Audrey Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, Eli Wallach, Hugh Griffith and Charles Boyer. The film is set and was filmed in France, though the characters speak entirely in English. Hepburn's clothes were designed by Givenchy.

<i>The Road to Hong Kong</i>

The Road to Hong Kong is a 1962 British semi-musical comedy film directed by Norman Panama and starring Bing Crosby and Bob Hope, as well as Joan Collins, with an extended cameo featuring Dorothy Lamour in the setting of Hong Kong under British Rule. This was the seventh and last in the long-running Road to … series and the only one not produced by Paramount Pictures, though references to the others in the series are made in the film and shown in Maurice Binder's opening title sequence.

<i>The Phantom of the Opera</i> (1962 film)

The Phantom of the Opera is a 1962 British horror film directed by Terence Fisher, a loose adaptation of the 1910 novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra by Gaston Leroux. The film was made by Hammer Film Productions but performed unsuccessfully at the box office.

<i>Mrs. Winterbourne</i>

Mrs. Winterbourne is a 1996 American romantic comedy-drama film starring Shirley MacLaine, Ricki Lake, and Brendan Fraser. It is loosely based on Cornell Woolrich's novel I Married a Dead Man, which has already been filmed in Hollywood as No Man of Her Own (1950) starring Barbara Stanwyck, and in Hindi as Kati Patang (1970) starring Asha Parekh. The film was shot on location in and around Toronto, Ontario including Eaton Hall in King City, Ontario. It was the final production of A&M Films.

Artists and Models is a 1955 American musical comedy film in VistaVision and marked Martin and Lewis's fourteenth feature together as a team. The film co-stars Shirley MacLaine and Dorothy Malone, also featuring Eva Gabor and Anita Ekberg in brief roles.

The 24th Golden Globe Awards, honoring the best in film for 1966 films, were held on February 15, 1967.

<i>Our Man in Marrakesh</i>

Our Man in Marrakesh is a 1966 British comedy spy film shot in Morocco produced and co-written by Harry Alan Towers, directed by Don Sharp and starring Tony Randall, Herbert Lom and Senta Berger.

<i>Twist of Fate</i> (1954 film) 1954 film by David Miller

Twist of Fate, also known as Beautiful Stranger, is a 1954 British and American mystery film noir directed by David Miller and starring Ginger Rogers and Herbert Lom.

<i>Gambit</i> (2012 film)

Gambit is a 2012 film directed by Michael Hoffman, starring Colin Firth, Cameron Diaz, Alan Rickman and Stanley Tucci. It is a remake of the 1966 film of the same name starring Shirley MacLaine and Michael Caine. This version is written by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film premiered in the UK on 21 November 2012; it never received a theatrical release in the US, despite originally being planned for a 12 October 2012 release, and went straight-to-DVD on 25 April 2014.

The 21st London Film Critics Circle Awards, honouring the best in film for 2000, were announced by the London Film Critics Circle on 15 February 2001.

Warner Bros. Museum, also known as the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Archive, is the only studio museum in the movie industry in Burbank, California and is dedicated to Warner Bros. Opened in 1996, the 7,000 sq. foot museum brings together costumes, props, animation cells and letters collected from the history of Warner Bros. film-making and television programs.

<i>Rose Rose I Love You</i> (film)

Rose Rose I Love You is a 1993 Hong Kong comedy film directed by Jacky Pang and starring Tony Leung, Kenny Bee, Simon Yam, Carina Lau, Veronica Yip and Charine Chan. The film is a sequel of the 1992 film, 92 Legendary La Rose Noire, with Leung reprising his role as from the predecessor, but features a new storyline. It was followed by another sequel, confusingly titled Black Rose II, released in 1997, also featuring a new storyline and cast.


  1. "Big Rental Films of 1967", Variety, 3 January 1968 p 25. Please note these figures refer to rentals accruing to the distributors.
  2. "The 39th Academy Awards (1967) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  3. "NY Times: Gambit". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times . Baseline & All Movie Guide. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2008-12-27.