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Courtesy of Netflix, Diane and I recently watched the movie Thief, starring James Caan.

This 1981 release was something of a "caper" movie, but not really.  If you ever plan to see it and don't like to have the plot twists given away, consider this your SPOILER ALERT, because I'm not going to concern myself with keeping 35 year old secrets.

There was a big heist, and the action had seemed in some respects to have been leading up to that point. But the movie didn't give this event the true particularization that is the raison d'etre of a real caper movie. And the climax didn't come until well after that.

The key conflict in the movie isn't between those trying to steal the diamonds from the well-protected vault on the one hand and those trying to protect those diamonds on the other. Rather, the real conflict is within the team that succeeds in stealing the diamonds.

As part of the set-up for that, there is the conversation in the diner, portrayed in the still above, between James Caan's character and that of his love interest, played by Tuesday Weld. He was in prison for 11 years, before getting released 4 years before this movie begins. He explains to her that the only way to survive is not to give a damn about anything, including your own survival. If people know you don't care, they'll fear you, and you will survive.

But the first twist is that in the course of this film he becomes as they say "settled down" or as much so as one can be while working as part of an organized group of diamond thieves. He marries Weld's character, they acquire a son through an illegal "adoption" (i.e. they buy a child on the black market) and they have a very nice house and start to get to know their neighbors. So there comes to be a lot he cares about, contrary to the frame of mind that got him through prison.

The second twist is that he has to give up all that and more and re-capture that don't-give-a-damn frame of mind in order to kick the butts of the real bad guys in the end. The diamond thief who is exploiting  the other diamond thieves. That bad guy gets his in the end, although the end can't by any stretch be considered a happy ending.

Why do I say all this? Because I don't plan to say anything about this year's Oscars, so this will have to serve as a season-appropriate nod to Hollywood.


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