Tony Mastroianni Review Collection
"Dollars" Stays on the Goldie Standard
Cleveland Press December 24, 1971
Richard Brooks is a writer-director who generally tackles serious matters in his movies. In "Dollars" he turns to crime and comedy, an entertainment rather than a message movie.
The result is a rather more complex and more interesting treatment than the type generally gets; qualities that work both for and against the film.
The crime is so exceptional in both planning and execution that society is well served by having Brooks involved in movies rather than safe-cracking. Never mind that it is all impossible -- he makes it seem possible.
What makes the crime different is that it is one that will bring no retribution from the law. Warren Beatty, as an expert in bank security, plans to empty the safety deposit boxes of three nefarious characters. He thus lifts $1,500,00 -- more or less -- from victims who will not, cannot complain to the police.
The setting is Hamburg, West Germany, and Beatty has just finished installing the latest security devices in a bank presided over by Gert Frobe.
With the aid of a kookie hooker (Goldie Hawn) he is keeping tabs on several shady characters who regularly make deposits. A courier from Las Vegas; an Army wheeler-dealer in stolen army goods, PX thefts and service club vice; and a murderous dealer in narcotics are the proposed victims.
The bank job is pulled off in broad daylight with thousands of witnesses and no one the wiser except the victims -- and then only some time later, when they find the boxes empty.
While they cannot go to the police, they can join forces to track down Beatty and Miss Hawn. About the time you think the movie is over, Brooks comes up with a few more twists.
While Brooks is imaginative and creative he does allow matters to go on too long for this kind of movie. He also allows his subsidiary characters to come on as strongly as his main ones, and it is only after some leisurely development and sorting out that we settle down to the story of Beatty and friend. From Beatty he gets a performance that has no mumbling in it, though the actor does seem rather gentle for his calling.
Miss Hawn's kookiness works for her in "Dollars" though a little of it goes a long way and in "Dollars" there is quite a bit. Subsidiary characters are very well acted and most of Hamburg and the surrounding country is well used in making the film.