11 Harrowhouse promotional movie poster
|Directed by||Aram Avakian|
|Produced by||Elliott Kastner
Denis Holt (associate producer)
|Written by||Jeffrey Bloom
Charles Grodin (adaptation)
Gerald A. Browne (novel)
|Music by||Michael J. Lewis|
|Edited by||Anne V. Coates|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
11 Harrowhouse is a 1974 British film directed by Aram Avakian. It was adapted by Charles Grodin based upon the novel by Gerald A. Browne with the screenplay by Jeffrey Bloom. It stars Charles Grodin, Candice Bergen, James Mason, Trevor Howard and John Gielgud.
In England, a small-time diamond merchant (Grodin) is unexpectedly offered the chance to supervise the purchase and cutting of an extremely large diamond to be named for its wealthy owner (Howard). When the diamond is stolen from him, he is blackmailed into pulling off a major heist at "The System," located at 11 Harrowhouse, with the help of his beautiful and wealthy girlfriend (Bergen). The key figure in the theft, however, is the inside man Watts (Mason) who works in the vault at The System. He is dying of cancer and wants to leave his family financially secure.
Although "The System" has an elaborate system of defenses and alarms against intruders, the robbery is carried out at night by gaining access to the roof from an adjacent property and threading a hose down a conduit into the vault, where Watts uses it to vacuum up thousands of rough diamonds out of their drawers. The thieves leave before the robbery is discovered, and when found in the vault in the morning, Watts claims to have eaten the gems. Most of the loot is buried in concrete, to prevent it flooding the market.
- Charles Grodin as Howard R. Chesser
- Candice Bergen as Maren Shirell
- James Mason as Charles D. Watts
- Trevor Howard as Clyde Massey
- John Gielgud as Meecham
Time Magazine reviewed the film positively, and described the cast as "poised and stylish."
A prominent theme of the film revolves around how the primary world diamond producer controls the price of diamonds by creating artificial scarcity, much as oil producers do today.
The film has been screened in two versions in the past - both with and without a retrospective commentary from Grodin's character, H.R. Chesser. Only the version without commentary seems to be widely available in published form, and neither version seems to have been screened to great extent on TV, though the original version with commentary holds up very well today. The film was released on LaserDisc by Fox Video in Widescreen Format and with the commentary intact.
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