East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Other People’s Pulps: Lassiter (1984)

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51QCMFGb+bLThere’s a movie I’ve been planning to cover on this blog for a while now, and finally two days back I mentioned it on Derrick Ferguson’s blog post I shared.
The movie is called Lassiter, and it’s from 1984, a time when Hollywood (or thereabouts) rediscovered the old pulp genre. Blame it on Indiana Jones.


A straightforward caper movie with an espionage twist, Lassiter is set in London, 1939.
American cat burglar/cracksman Nick Lassiter (Tom Selleck) is blackmailed by the Yard and the FBI into burglarizing the German embassy, in order to retrieve 10 millions in uncut diamonds.
Add t the mix Lassiter’s ballerina girlfriend (Jane Seymour), a seductive and debauched Nazi femme fatale (Lauren Hutton), and a Scotland Yard inspector (Bob Hoskins) hell bent on seeing Lassiter in the can no matter what, and the whole set-up suddenly gets very complicated.

It is a well-known fact that Selleck had turned down the role of Indiana Jones because he was filming Magnum, and a lot of critics have seen Lassiter ) and the previous year’s High Road to China) as the actor’s attempt at getting back a piece of the action.

In fact, Lassiter owes more to The Sting (from which it lifts a whole scene) than to Indiana Jones, and any comparison with To Catch a Thief is better left unspoken.


And yet it’s a nice little movie, with all the right bits in the right place.
lassiter (1)The cast is more than adequate – Hoskins is great as ever, we get the only nude scene ever from Jane Seymour1 and Lauren Hutton (always gorgeous) is completely and delightfully perverse in the role of Kari Von Fursten, the Nazi man-eater2.
Great costumes, good locations, some very nice cars and a fine score – which includes some jazz standards.
There’s a few well-designed action scenes, and a pretty brutal fight that looks real enough to be convincing.
This is a stylish movie, which – as Roger Ebert observed – is what movies like this are supposed to be.

Alas, it was a commercial disappointment – which is a pity.
Seen thirty-odd years on, it plays like a good pilot for a TV series that never got made, and provides some much-needed entertainment on a hot summer night.

  1. the film clocks at 100 minutes but I am absolutely certain the first time I caught it on TV the nude scene had been cut. 
  2. a pity that the movie takes so much time establishing her character, and then never uses her fully. 

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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