ROUGH CUT -- AMC Academy, AMC Skyline Capri, Hampton Mall, K-B Baronet West, Roth's Tysons, Springfield, Tenley Circle, White Flint.

It's nice for filmmakers that they no longer have to make sure on-screen crime doesn't pay. It's more fun to let delightful rouges carry off their elaborate schemes and continue their champagne-sipping ways.

"Rough Cut" is a lot of fun. It's a sort of homage to Cary Grant and the world of Grant, where wealth, elegance, beauiful objects and women merrily handle life, love and the pursuit of the micest forms of skullduggery.

In movies, as when stealing diamonds, it's best to get the real article, but even as one wishes Burt Reynolds were Grant, one is thankful he's Reynolds because in a Grantless movie one could do so much worse.

Reynolds, playing the king of diamondthieves, and Lesley-Anne Down, in a role on the theme a pretty girl is like a felony, are very appealing as the latest inheritors of the rich tradition of carefree people whose quips are as abundant as their bankrolls.

Unfortunately for Reynolds, Down and their costar David Niven, the quips are alternately bulls-eys and misfirs, but the actors' charm and sex appeal keep "Rough Cut" moving reasonably smoothly over its rough patches.

Down, in particular, gets stronger as the movie rolls along to the best of a Duke Ellington soundtrack in which some of Ellington's vitality survives Nelson Riddle's arrangements. The actress who gained fame as Georgina in "Upstairs, "Downstairs" is once again cast as aloof and aristocratic. After she falls in love, she is radiantly sexy.

Reynolds is no weakling in that department, either. His performance opens with a Cary Grant imitation as though "Rough Cut" director Don Siegel and scriptwriter Francis Burns decided the best way to face the comparisons was head-on. But Reynolds seems equally at home later on doing bits of Peter Sellers and Humphrey Bogart and letting the criticism they provoke from Down slide off his back.

Reynolds and "Rough Cut" both have a nice way of not taking themselves too seriously and sometimes making a virtue of what more predictably would be a clinker -- as in Niven's nice hymn to the sanctity of property.

A movie like "Rough Cut" is a delicate object in today's movie market of blockbusters. An overwhelming majority of moviegoers are under 25 years old, and one wonders what Cary Grant means to them and how a film with not a single ax murder, that employs no nation's army nor navy, and that didn't rent a village including villagers as extras will draw.

"Rough Cut" isn't the finest vintage of its light, dry style, but it is easy to take and when it ends you may be sorry there isn't more.

Reynolds likes Down's screen name, Gillian, because it reminds him of really important words like million and billion. I like "Rough "cut," for itself, as well as for the memories.