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The Coen Brothers have written a "Gambit" remake. They've cast Colin Firth in the Michael Caine role as a cat burglar, and Cameron Diaz in Shirley Maclaine's part as his accomplice.

You don't remember "Gambit?" Well, in Caine's new memoir, "The Elephant to Hollywood," he writes about "the call that would truly change my life. Shirley Maclaine had seen me in 'The Ipcress File'...she had chosen me for her next film, 'Gambit.'"

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This 1966 heist movie was laden with good karma. It launched Caine into Hollywood and was the first film cowritten by Alvin Sargent, who went on to write flavorful scripts as different as "The Sterile Cuckoo" and "Spider-Man 2." Its often deft director Ronald Neame ("Tunes of Glory"), who died last year, made the classic "Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" two years after he did "Gambit."

The Coens have engaged Michael Hoffman to direct -- another excellent choice. "The Last Station" was one of the best films of 2009, and Hoffman's 1991 "Soapdish" is one of the funniest show-biz farces you've never seen.

Check those Hoffman films out -- along with the original "Gambit," released last month as an on-demand DVD from the Universal Vault Series. It has a witty structure and glittering performances. You can see why Maclaine was a big Hollywood star and why Caine became one.

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