How To Steal A Million
The mid-60s were a time for great heist films. They brought us dashing crooks who drove fast cars, drank champagne and robbed people almost as an afterthought. How To Steal A Million trades on the frothy cred of the high-society burglar that began with Ernst Lubitsch’s Trouble In Paradise and was carried on via Cary Grant in To Catch A Thief.
The cast alone gives it credibility: Peter O’Toole is dashing art thief Simon and Audrey Hepburn is Nicole, the law-abiding daughter of an art forger (Hugh Griffith). Together they must pull off a brilliant heist – to steal a well-protected statue from a gallery in Paris, before it can be discovered that the statue itself (on loan from Hepburn’s father) is actually a forgery.
As with many heist films, How To Steal A Million does not merely concern itself with the theft of the statue. It sets up a whole slew of entertaining and charming characters: millionaire Eli Wallach who plays an unwitting role in the heist, a museum guard known only in the credits as ‘Mustaches,’ an ongoing joke about waking up the President of France in the middle of the night.
The heist itself is clever and remarkably low-tech, involving a boomerang, a loaf of bread, an elaborate alarm system and O’Toole and Hepburn pressed together in a broom closet. With a quintessential Sixties soundtrack, gorgeous clothes, fast cars and two leads who could charm anyone’s pants off, this film is the frothy genre at its height. Makes you want to be an art thief.
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