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Clever and charming! One of the best Audrey Hepburn films there are!
With an always charming performance from Audrey Hepburn and her great chemistry with Peter O'Toole, 'How to Steal a Million' is a funny, slow-paced heist film as its two leads plan to rob a French art museum.
this film is as explendid as underrated .two acting giants form a duo that we all wished appeared in more movies .comedy is exceptional and the scenes of the museum are favorites .loving every minute of it.
Wasn't I just in 1960's Paris w/Peter O'Toole (What's New Pussycat, and I panned him) a little while ago? Well, what a difference a day makes, or a co-star, at least if your co-star is Audrey Hepburn. In a pairing reminiscent of William Powell and Myrna Loy in the Thin Man series of yore, the screen practically bubbles with these two simply reacting off of one another. Why this coupling was never repeated I'll never know, but it's butter on the screen. Oh, yes, there's some sort of story going here, something about a museum heist, something to do with art, I don't know, or care really, cause this film was actually wrapped when the casting director signed these two on.
Charming, clever, oddly romantic, some small laughs, yet all throughout a big smile. This was a delightful experience charged with tantalizing poise between two beautiful people whose characters should be anything but lovers. Papa asks Nicole if she had been molested by this burglar Simon, to which she buries herself in denial and answers, "no." These days, such a matter would not be treated whimsically, but a few decades ago, an extra dose of masculinity wasn't such a crime. Simon thrives on setting Nicole up throughout the film to get her into his arms, something which would also be considered taboo these days. But it's a treasure to have these on film, to experience the gaiety it serves in a story. Have no fear, this is no
Pillow Talk, Rock Hudson/Doris Day cutesy rom-com, in fact it seems to be throwing the genre's cliches back in it's face.
Tonally it's more like To Catch a Thief, and there's even an homage to Hitchcock just before Simon is revealed; a suspense scene of him breaking into the house while Nicole reads a book about the Master of Suspense. A startling noise, she throws the book over her face, Hitchcock's picture on the jacket covering her. Makes for a good laugh. O'Toole's Simon then makes a graceful entrance as the cool and collected art thief, mysteriously taking a sample of excess paint. Already we suspect he might have his own analysis process to determine if what he steals is authentic. We sense Simon is playing with Nicole after she catches him, and the budding tension between them is a delight. She ends up shooting him in the arm, which he oversells to gain her sympathy. Ultimately, the only thing he really wants is her, but there will be a few obstacles and misleads along the way to make it seem otherwise.
It takes awhile for the plot device to come into effect - Papa's fake Cellini Venus is the talk of the town on display at the local museum, and he plans to get a million dollars for it. Only it has to pass examination for insurance coverage, which he signed away without realizing. His whole life's earnings thrive on the fakes he's sold, and if he is caught, he will end up losing everything. Wyler does a good job framing various rooms in the house lavishly in wide-shots juxtaposing the subjects who inhabit these spaces. Everything is antique, even the gun Nicole shoots Simon with, primly decorated, displaying works of art, large halls, marble floors, winding staircases. We get a visual sense of what's at stake for them. The burglar Nicole was so anxious to keep away is now a source of business interest: steal back the Venus before examination, and hide it.
The Venus robbery is full of tedium and clever devices. Most tedious is Simon's magnet play to retrieve the key, which turns out to be such a badass move that it symbolically magnetized Nicole into his arms. Earlier it's established that Simon has a good relationship with the boomerang, as it now comes into effect when he sets the alarm off, then runs to hide, creating the impression that it's malfunctioning. After the alarm sets off enough times, the guards grow irksome, deciding to shut it off, paving the way for the theft. Simon, having previously played a faux inspector, noted a staircase exit through the guard's room, which now comes back into play as Nicole, impersonating a coy cleaner while actually containing the Venus in her mop bucket, scrubs her way out of this hidden exit.
I was enjoying but troubled by the immorality of the idea that these forgers should be the protagonists who we cheer to have a successful theft and escape from fraudulence. But the twist in Simon's character makes up for everything, and his true intention reveals what one might've suspected but forgot from the get-go when he took that little clump of paint for analysis. He's not letting any crime get away, and the frauds will lose their prized trophy. But in the end, he gets the girl, and his love for her is the only reason her father doesn't go to jail. That's a pretty sweet twist.
A giddy comedy and an energetic heist in one understated classic.
Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole rescue an improbable plot in this old Billy Wyler comedy.
There's a vibe that feels similar to Charade in this film (although it's not quite up to that standard.) It's not just the presence of Audrey Hepburn either, but it's the playful interaction between her and Peter O'Toole that makes it shine. I don't think they have a ton of chemistry, and the romance seemed to come out of nowhere, but when the writing is this strong I kind of overlook those flaws.
The script is great because it has a lot of crazy complexity to everyone's story, and yet it still manages to maintain clear goals and agendas for all the characters. There's a lot of comedy in the setup as we learn all the history of these people, and their art. The laughs distract from the fact that it takes a long time to get the climax going. It did seem like the movie was in danger of dragging on too long, but it never got so bad I would say I was "bored."
The 3rd act is when the title of the film comes into play and it transitions into one of my favorite types of movies. I adore a good heist, and this is back in the days before silly electronic gadgets and complex computer systems, so it took some extra cunning. It was so much fun to slowly realize what was happening and to discover their plan. It's made even better by the fact that they have 2 amazing lead actors to carry the story.
How to Steal a Million is a fun little romp. It has laughs, romance, and adventure. I commend the script because it is so smart. I miss movies like this that could make you laugh with nothing more than clever wordplay. Also, they gave the film a wholly original setup that was both ridiculous and yet logical. Add in a fabulous cast and you have a movie that I greatly enjoyed, and would like to watch again sometime.
Available on Netflix
Another great movie with Audrey Hepburn. Robbery scene is hilarious.