Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Pickpockets' movie is mostly empty

Cleveland Press September 6, 1973

"Harry In Your Pocket" offers an interesting short course in picking pockets but there's little more that you can say for it.

After learning that a pickpocket gang is a wire mob, the head thief a cannon, the man who spots the victim a finger man and the person who bumps or distracts the victim a stall, I figured there ought to be a story of sorts to go with all of this technical data.

But "Harry In Your Pocket" is more a well researched thesis than movie script, w i t h old timers explaining to newcomers what all these words mean and how to go about lifting a poke (wallet).

James Coburn plays Harry as the epitome of cool; a polished, accomplished pick pocket, an artist in his field.

Stealing the movie is Walter Pidgeon as Harry's fingerman. Pidgeon has all the good lines, which don't amount to too many. He has some other lines that he makes sound awfully good.

Few actors could carry off a speech in which he extols the virtues of the old time cannons as compared with today's undisciplined youth who won't take time to learn. Pidgeon does and it reminds you that among actors as well as pickpockets there are few around any more who are so disciplined and who know their craft so well.

Michael Sarrazin and Trish Van Devere are the young recruits whom Pidgeon and Coburn train. Miss Van Devere, outfitted in mini skirt or hot pants, is the stall who distracts male victims while Harry lifts their pokes.

The movie is enough to discourage a man on the pleasant pastime of girl watching.

The script calls for Coburn to be fatally attracted to his stall, an attraction that leads to his eventual downfall. It just doesn't sit with the tough, cool character Harry is supposed to be.

But it isn't so much that the script has holes as it is a matter of just not amounting too much.

The picture was filmed in Seattle, Wash.; Victoria, British Columbia; and Salt Lake City. The cities are fresh as movie locales and very photogenic.

Sarrazin plays his part with a sad, hound dog expression that has become his stock in trade. Miss VanDevere just smiles prettily at everything, but it isn't acting.

Add up the scenes showing the mob in action, the scenic locales, Pidgeon's fine acting and Miss Van Devere's legs and there are several minutes worth of interesting movie. The rest -- and it is considerable -- doesn't add up to very much, however.