For, Nov. 14, 2014

Out of print since the late 1980s when it received a VHS release, the crime comedy "Silver Bears" (1978) finally makes its DVD debut next week (Nov. 18).

Michael Caine stars as Doc Fletcher, the financial mastermind of an American mob headed by Joe Fiore (Martin Balsam). Doc comes up with a money-laundering scheme that involves a Swiss bank and an impoverished Italian prince (Louis Jourdan). But when the bank proves less than desirable, Doc redeems himself with a scheme involving an Iranian silver mine that will lure high-rolling investors. Unfortunately, it also gluts the silver market.

The primary draw for "Silver Bears," however, is the eclectic cast. In addition to Caine, Balsam and Jourdan, there's Cybill Shepherd, David Warner, and — wait for it — Tom Smothers and Jay Leno.


Jay Leno, left, Tony Mascia, Michael Caine, Lous Jourdan, 'Silver Bears'

Though both comics are better known for doing their own thing on television, Smothers had roles in a number of TV movies/series and in a handful of movies in the 1970s and '80s, and Leno, believe it or not, had supporting roles in eight films during the late '70s through the early '90s — including the lead in an action comedy.

In "Silver Bears," Smothers plays a banker and Leno the inept son of the mob boss, and both do credible jobs.


Cybill Shepherd, Tom Smothers on a Lobby Card for 'The Silver Bears.'

I don't want to oversell this one. I enjoyed the film as a guilty pleasure but no one will mistake it for "The Sting." Still, if you like the stars and can suspend disbelief in the contrivances for a couple of hours, it's not bad.

The DVD release of "Silver Bears" comes through the cult-film label Cheezy Flicks — and if you buy it at that site, you'll find that it's half the price of the Amazon offering.