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Film / A Fine Pair

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A Fine Pair is a 1968 film from Italy directed by Francesco Maselli, starring Rock Hudson and Claudia Cardinale.

Capt. Mike Harmon (Hudson) is a very buttoned-down, by-the-book NYPD supervisor, with a buttoned-down, by-the-book marriage. Into his life dashes the absurdly gorgeous Esmerelda (Cardinale). Esmerelda is an Italian sexpot who got to know Harmon as a teenager years ago, when Mike worked with her Italian police captain father on an investigation and she developed a schoolgirl crush on him.

Esmerelda has a problem. It seems that she rebelled against her family full of cops and started a life of crime. Together with an experienced thief named Jackie Mitchell, she stole some jewels from a villa in the Austrian Alps. Now Jackie has disappeared, the jewels have been discovered to be fakes, and Esmerelda needs help returning them to the villa before the owners return from a trip. She appeals to her old friend Captain Mike to help her break in and return the fake jewels.


Against his better judgment, and no doubt lured on by Esmerelda's hotness, Mike agrees, and goes with her to Europe. Sparks fly between the two, and Mike comes up with a way to defeat the security system and enter the villa...but Esmerelda knows more than she's telling and there's more than one double-cross to come.

An Italian production released in Italian and English dubs; unlike Once Upon a Time in the West, Cardinale was allowed to deliver the English dialogue in her own voice rather than being dubbed. Ennio Morricone composed the score.



  • Artistic License – Physics: The dialogue specifies that Mike has to raise the temperature in the villa to 194 degrees in order to disable the alarm system. It's marginally plausible that Mike and Esmerelda would be able to survive that temperature for long enough to open the safe, but it would be impossible to raise the temperature of a building as large as that villa to 194 F by any means other than burning the building down (in the movie they put dissolved gunpowder in the furnace).
  • Establishing Character Moment: If Mike's rigidly-square, Coke-bottle glasses weren't enough of a tipoff, in his first scene he bawls out a subordinate for leaving the daily progress report on the inbox behind Mike's desk, rather than moving the paper five feet and placing it on Mike's desk. Mike's anal-retentiveness and devotion to order are firmly established.
  • Follow That Car: Lampshaded. Immediately upon arrival in the United States, Esmerelda hails a cab and tells the cabbie to "follow that car!". The overjoyed cabbie says "You know lady, I gave up my career as a stockbroker just so I could hear someone say 'Follow that car'." And Esmerelda wasn't actually following that car, she just did it for kicks.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Gender-flipped. After Mike takes off his glasses on the plane in order to put on some eyeshades, Esmerelda gasps and says "You look beautiful without glasses!" In the next scene Mike's glasses are back on.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Esmerelda is sexy and passionate and fun and a trickster, she steals jewels, she radiates mating signals at Mike from the start, and she's just generally madcap adventure in human form. In classic MPDG form, she exists to get anal-retentive straight-laced Mike to let himself go.
    Esmerelda: Harmon, have you ever done anything in your life that wasn't reasonable.
  • Monochrome Past: A flashback of Mike years ago goofing around with a teenaged Esmerelda and her father—it actually turns out to be a black-and-white home movie that he and Esmerelda are watching in his apartment, but the effect is the same.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Esmerelda, who spends much of the movie in skimpy clothing. In the opening scene the guy at the passport counter is stamping passports and repeating the sentence "Welcome to the United States" in a machinelike manner. When he gets a load of Esmerelda he says "Welcome to the United States, and thank you for an opportunity to be sincere."
    • Our heroes have to heat the villa to 194 F to disable the alarm system at the villa—which naturally requires Esmerelda to writhe around on the floor in bra and panties while Mike sprays her with water. And if that wasn't enough Claudia Cardinale Fanservice, the director made sure to get a shot of her dangling cleavage as Esmerelda bends over the safe in order to steal the genuine jewels.
  • One Head Taller: Esmerelda makes it almost to Mike's chin.
  • Shower of Love: Just one way that Mike and Esmerelda pass the time after they become lovers and partners in crime.
  • Time Passes Montage: A romantic montage showing Mike and Esmerelda drinking, dancing, and otherwise cavorting around Rome.

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