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   HOW TO STEAL A MILLION (1966) 

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CAST
Audrey Hepburn
Peter O'Toole
Eli Wallach
Hugh Griffith
Charles Boyer
Fernand Gravey
Marcel Dalio

DIRECTED BY
William Wyler

PURCHASE


DVD




About Audrey




Time: 123 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Comedy/Romance/Caper


HOW TO STEAL A MILLION is a lovely, fluffy, romantic caper comedy where the danger is innocuous and the clothes are fantastic. Though I haven't seen many of either Hepburn's or O'Toole's films, the ones I have watched are pure heaven. The main reason this film is as enjoyable as it is, is purely due to their onscreen chemistry with each other and the camera. They are professionals who know exactly what to do and how to make themselves and their co-stars shine. The lovely interiors and the Givenchy couture outfits only add to the visual perfection of the leads. When you have actors as lovely as these two, who cares what the plot is? Well, luckily for us, the director cared a great deal. It's not a brilliant screenplay, but it's fun, witty, intriguing and utterly romantic.

Hepburn plays Nicole Bonnet, the honest daughter of an art collecting millionaire whose hobby just happens to be producing fake paintings. She tries to get her father to stop selling his masterpieces, but he enjoys it too much to give it up, even for her. His latest folly has her even more up in arms. He lends one of his priceless sculptures to the Paris museum for a special exhibit. The only problem is that though he claims it's worth a million dollars, it's actually a fake created by his father using his mother as the model. Nicole is aghast, but he sees nothing wrong with sharing this "treasure" with the world. Besides, since it's only for display, the museum will have no reason to actually confirm its' veracity.

What they don't know is that there are several people who are quite aware of Mr. Bonnet's hobby and are out to prove that the paintings he's been selling are not the originals. Nicole meets one of them in her house while he's attempting to steal their "priceless" Monet. Their encounter gets Simon (O'Toole) a shot in the arm and the beginning of a new romance. Even though he's trying to rob them, Nicole is entranced by his charm and wit. She agrees to let him go and gets a soft kiss as a thank you. As much as she tries to forget Simon, that's not in the cards. It seems that the statue needs to be appraised after all for insurance purposes. If they don't stop the appraisal, Bonnet's reputation will be ruined, not to mention he may also wind up behind bars.


Simon Dermott: "There's the bathroom, take off your clothes."
Nicole Bonnet: "Are we planning the same sort of crime?"


Nicole is desperate and goes to Simon to beg his help. Since he's a famous burglar he should be able to figure out a way to break into the museum and steal the statue for her. He initially refuses as the Museum has the security system of Fort Knox, but he can't resist her beauty or her tears. Together they scope out the security and make their plan. He has no idea if it's going to work, but he's in love and will do anything to make her happy. Nicole keeps him at arms length since this is a business arrangement, but she doesn't hide her emotions very well. Time in a small closet together would break down anyone's reserve, especially if you were trying to resist O'Toole. Their plan is crazy, but it works like a charm. Simon is a well-prepared thief and he outsmarts the police and the cops, winning the heart of Nicole and a million dollar insurance policy to boot. He even finds a sucker willing to buy the statue. Alls well that ends well.

Hepburn was a little old to be playing a spritely, young, innocent girl – she was 37 – but her playfulness of spirit and lithe figure enable her to still pull off this role. The perfect Givenchy wardrobe that shows off her assets to perfection, doesn't hurt either. She is a wonderful physical comedienne and this role allows her to be silly and lovely all at the same time. O'Toole is a real charmer and there's no woman in the world who'd be able to resist those intelligent blue eyes and perfect smile. His devil-may-care attitude is infectious. He knows Nicole's little secret, is actually one of the men investigating her father, and he still throws caution to the wind to please her. He's the perfect pursuer, gentle, yet unrelenting. This may be a caper film, but the true item he's out to steal is Nicole's heart. Hugh Griffith, who plays Mr. Bonnet, also gives an endearingly funny performance as a man who loves creating fake art and just can't say no to selling it.

Though the film is set in Paris, most of it takes place indoors. It's obvious they didn't film in the City of Lights, but that doesn't take away from the film all that much. The clothes and attitude more than make up for the lack of scenery. In fact, a good 20 minutes of the film takes place with Hepburn and O'Toole locked in a small supply closet and that sequence is one of the films' best. At just over 2 hours, HOW TO STEAL A MILLION would have been better served to be 10-15 minutes shorter. The theft was interesting, but way too long. The subplot of Nicole becoming engaged to the obsessed American art collector, played by Wallach, gave the film some funny lines and cleanly ties up the plot, but is otherwise a waste of time.

At its core, HOW TO STEAL is a simple love story about how two fabulous people found each other. Not highly memorable, but funny enough going down. How could you not enjoy an Audrey Hepburn movie? Even when they're not that good, her mere presence raises the film to a higher level. No one knows why the camera loves some people so much. In her case, we can only be glad that it does. If you're a fan, you'll truly enjoy this movie. It's pure Audrey.



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