DVD Review: ROBERT CONRAD DOUBLE FEATURE

DVD REVIEW:  Robert Conrad Double Feature:  Live a Little, Steal a Lot / Sudden Death 
REVIEWED BY: CINEMA LATTE
GRADE: 3 OUT OF 5 REELS
RELEASE DATE:  October 16, 2012
DISC INFORMATION: 1 disc, color, widescreen
RUNNING TIME:  180 minutes
SPECIAL FEAUTURES:  None
RATED: Not Rated, but would probably earn a PG-13 or R
GENRE:  Crime/Drama/Action
UPC:  815300010372
STARRING:  Robert Conrad, Don Stroud, Donna Mills and Burt Young

This one disc, double feature of two Robert Conrad movies from the 70’s is entertaining and interesting.  Very dated with style, language, and culture; these two movies follow two different tracks of life.  One follows the life of a thief and the other follows the life of a trained CIA assassin.  Both have Robert Conrad in the tightest pants and smallest shorts ever seen on a man.  Much like the clothing style of “Wild, Wild West”, Conrad is able to maneuver and fight without splitting a seam.  And, he does it under the direction of the director for the “Wild Wild West“ TV series for one of the movies.

“Sudden Death” — Opens with a family BBQ in the backyard with a man, wife and three kids when suddenly gunmen burst from the shrubs and shoot them all in cold blood.  The man survives the shooting and tries to hire someone to find his family’s killers.  When his efforts are not fruitful, he turns to a retired CIA trained assassin, Duke Smith.  Smith turns him down but when he hears of the man’s death a couple of days later, he takes up the case.  Soon it is hitman vs. hitman in a game of wits and loved ones’ lives on the line.  

Fake blood effects, tight closes, awkward scenes, and some racial slurs are all mixed into this 1977 movie.  At an hour and 29 minutes, this movie does have some wonderful twists.  The ending is very gripping and would not play so well for today’s Hollywood ending needing audiences.  With that in mind, it is rather shocking to know that this was the ending back in 1977.   The fight choreography isn’t impressive but very entertaining, especially when one yells to the other “Stop showing off already and end it!”  Filmed entirely on location in the Philippines under the direction of Eddie Romero.

“Live a Litte/Steal a Lot”–Based on the true story of the world’s biggest and most famous jewel heist from 1964 in New York. Also called “Murph the Surf”, this 1975 movie follows the lives of two jewel thieves as they pull off the “Greatest Jewel Heist of the 20th Century” of J.P. Morgan jewel collection on display at the New York’s American Museum of Natural History.  Alan Kuhn recruits a surfing buddy from his daytime job at the local beach resort to help with a jewel heist.  After teaching Jack Murphy the tricks of the trade, he ups the ante and goes for the jewel collection of the most prized and precious stones known to man.  Tension develops between the friends when Alan sets his sights on Jack’s girlfriend.  When the two men are brought in for suspicion of the theft, they find that they are up against dirty cops who know that  they did it but have nothing on them so they are fabricating evidence and looking to put them away for a very long time.  Alan takes the plea deal against the protests of Jack.  With the Star of India sapphire and the deLong Ruby, 22 stones were taken and only 21 were recovered.  Still missing is the 16.25 carat Eagle Diamond.  Once they served their sentence, Alan Kuhn went legit and Jack Murphy was still longing for the good life and ended up committing several other offenses that landed him life in prison.

More small tight shorts and naked bodies strewn this movie under the director from “The Wild Wild West”, Marvin Chomsky.  The story flip-flops between the heist in progress to events leading up to the heist.  The tension of the break-in and the race from the cops is interesting and entertaining.  The dated clothes and hairstyles are a blast from the past.  Entertaining and a great on screen partner/team with Conrad and Stroud.  Interesting story with entertaining characters.

This double feature is entertaining and interesting.  I enjoyed the non-Hollywood of “Sudden Death” and the intrigue of the jewel heist in “Live a Litte/Steal a Lot”.  Both movies are very dated in clothing, hairdos, and dialogue.  One movie has Stroud and Conrad on opposite sides of a conflict while the other has them working together to pull off the heist of a lifetime.  

The movies are both just OK.  There isn’t anything super special about them, but they are very good movies, none-the-less.  Entertaining and in some cases refreshing break from the normal Hollywood cut.  And, hey, somewhere out there, you may find the Eagle Diamond.

That’s my review and I’m sticking to it. 
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