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Name the film


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I saw this film on TV, sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. I'd like to know the name of it. Here's what I remember.

It was probably made in the 70s.

It's a cat-and-mouse pursuit between a jewel thief who's in possession of some stolen emeralds, and a detective who knows the guy has the jewels but can't prove it. The thief can't leave town; knows he's being watched or something.

The dialogue is in English, but it's set outside the United States, possibly in Latin America. Or perhaps Greece, Italy, Portugal or Spain.

The thief and the detective have several encounters during the course of the film. In one exchange, the detective pulls the thief's car over for speeding.

Thief: I am a foreigner. I cannot read signs in your language.

Detective: Everyone can read numbers.

In another exchange, the detective is eating stuffed grape leaves.

In a third exchange, the thief gets the jump on the detective and holds a pistol to his head. He then discusses several places on the detective's head and body where he could fire, and what the consequences might be. "I fire here, and you are one-eyed and paralyzed." Et cetera. Then the thief smashes the gun on the table. It was a plastic toy.

At some point the thief borrows a truck with an enormous clown's head on it, equipped with a loudspeaker. He drives through the streets, pursued by children, announcing something about "The Cornelius Circus! Meet me at the dock!"

Thief and detective have a final encounter in a grain silo. Thief hands over the emeralds, but then has the last laugh by trapping the detective in the silo and dumping grain on him till he suffocates. Final shot is of the detective's hand, clutching the emeralds, protruding from a pile of grain.

I have no illusions about this being a great film, but it's stuck with me for 25 years, so there must be something interesting about it. Might even have been a made-for-TV thing, but I don't think so.

Anyone recognize it?

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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A Latin America setting and an emerald thief (Ryan O'Neal) could point to Green Ice, but that has a James Bond-type plot which doesn't seem to match the rest of your description.

We are part of the generation in which the image has triumphed over the word, when the visual is dominant over the verbal and where entertainment drowns out exposition. We may go so far as to claim that we live in an age of the image which is also the age of anti-word and potentially is the age of the lie. ~ Os Guiness

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17)

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A Latin America setting and an emerald thief (Ryan O'Neal) could point to Green Ice, but that has a James Bond-type plot which doesn't seem to match the rest of your description.

Pretty sure Ryan O'Neal isn't in this film. Thief and detective are both dark-haired, swarthy gentlemen. Thief has curly hair and is clean shaven. Detective has straight hair, longer 70s cut, and mustache.

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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  • 14 years later...

And at long last ... I've figured out that said film is THE BURGLARS (LE CASSE), 1971. 

Directed by Henri Verteuil, this film was shot in both French and English. It is set in Athens. Jean-Paul Belmondo is Azad, the thief; Omar Sharif is Zacharias, the detective. Ennio Morricone soundtrack! Exciting car chase through Athens involving a Fiat! (I've been to Athens; people there drive as if they were in a car chase all the time.) Looks somewhat cheesy, but I think it'll be worth rewatching. 

Can't find it streaming, but will probably buy a DVD pretty soon.  

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0068347/
 

Let's Carl the whole thing Orff!

Do you know the deep dark secret of the avatars?

It's big. It's fat. It's Greek.

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Hi mando,

What a delightful post, thanks for circling back and letting us know you found the answer.

I was reminded of my own attempts for many years, to discover the title of a song I heard on the radio that had the line "The devil is my savior..." in pre-Internet days. Everyone kept telling me based on my description that it was "Goodby Stranger" by Supertramp, and I said, "no that's not it." But it was. Sometimes Google makes such quests less Romantic than they used to be.

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