THE BURGLARS. Columbia Films, France, 1971. Columbia Pictures, US, 1972. Original title: Le casse. Jean-Paul Belmondo, Omar Sharif, Dyan Cannon. Based on the novel The Burglar, by David Goodis. Director: Henri Verneuil.

   Speaking of Perversity, I wanted to say a word or two about a French film called The Burglars, directed by Henri Verneuil and, based on David Goodis’s melancholy novel The Burglar. Never — not once in many many years of watching Trashy Movies — have I seen a film so utterly unfaithful o its source material.

   And never have I watched a film so lightly enjoyable anyway. From start to Finish, the Burglars is a romp, with spectacular scenery, mind-boggling stuntwork by its star,Jean-Paul Belmondo, colorful backgrounds, fights, chases, leaps, bounds, double-crosses, Op Art, gimmicks, and every thing else that made the thrillers of the late 60s/early 70s such fun to watch.

   The plot, about a gang of jewel thieves picked off by a cop who’s gone into business for himself, serves mainly as a pretext for Belmondo to strut his klutzy machismo while Cannon and Sharif look seductive, and is a complete betrayal of Goodis’s haunting thriller. But it’s all done with so much panache as to be immediately forgivable. And totally entertaining. Catch it!