A nonchalant young American diamond merchant, Howard R. Chesser (Charles Grodin), travels to London on one of his frequent trips to 11 Harrowhouse; the offices of the world’s largest clearinghouse for diamonds.
Joining Howard is his girlfriend, the daring and vivacious Maren Shirell (Candice Bergen), a rich widow who drives extremely badly.
Chesser has to deal with, and accept what’s offered by, Harrowhouse’s snobbish, ruthless and pompous manager, Meecham (pictured at right).
Chesser is subsequently called to the mansion of crooked multi-millionaire, Clyde Massey (Trevor Howard), who wants the American to purchase a £1m uncut diamond to be known as ‘The Massey’.
Meecham likes to control the diamond market and Harrowhouse is part of a cartel called the Consolidated Selling System, so it comes as no surprise when Chesser is robbed of his expensive diamond whilst travelling to Belgium to have it cut.
It transpires that £5 billion worth of jewels are held at Harrowhouse to artificially inflate the market, and the barnstorming Massey proposes they seek revenge by emptying the vault at Harrowhouse.
Chesser finds an ally in Charles Watts (James Mason), an embittered Harrowhouse employee who is terminally ill and feels he is being cheated out of a pension that would take care of his family after death.
With Watts acting as the inside man, the heist is accomplished effortlessly.
When Massey double-crosses Chesser and Maren, the duo is soon on the run with billions worth of diamonds.
A rather successful stab at spoofing detailed “heist” films. The excellent and underrated Charles Grodin faultlessly portrays the nervy hero and interjects an ironically deadpan narration at key moments throughout the offbeat film.
The venerable supporting cast includes urbane British stalwarts James Mason, Trevor Howard, John Gielgud and Jack Watling unashamedly hamming it up.
Howard R. Chesser
Charles D. Watts
Lady Anne Bolding