Director Billy Wilder salutes his idol, Ernst Lubitsch, with this comedy about a middle-aged playboy fascinated by the daughter of a private detective who has been hired to entrap him with the wife of a client.
In 1930, in Belgium, Gabrielle van der Mal is the stubborn daughter of the prominent surgeon Dr. Pascin Van Der Mal that decides to leave her the upper-class family to enter to a convent, ... See full summary »
Nicole's father, a legendary art collector, lends his prized Cellini Venus to a prestigious Paris museum. Unfortunately, the Venus was *not* sculpted by Cellini but by Nicole's grandfather. (Her father is a forger as well, but his specialty is paintings.) Before tests can be done which would prove the Venus a fake, Nicole enlists the services of "society burglar" Simon Demott to steal the million dollar statue. Written by
After Nicole (played by Audrey Hepburn) dresses up as a cleaning lady, Simon Dermott says "That does it. For one thing, it gives Givenchy a night off." Hubert de Givenchy was Audrey Hepburn's costume designer. See more »
When Dermott and Leland are having their conversation at the Ritz, the position of Dermott's hand with the cigarette changes multiple times between shots. See more »
A Filmic Bon Bon; a Trend-Setting, Light-Hearted Romp
The trio of William Wyler directing, Audrey Hepburn as a charming French woman in need of help and Peter O'Toole as the dashing fellow who agrees to commit a crime for her seemed at first glance to many film aficionados to be potentially a fine partnership for making a winning comedy. "How to Steal a Million" in fact turned out to be atmospheric, very French, very sophisticated and a great deal of fun. The clever story and screenplay by George Bradshaw and Harry Kurnitz worked almost everywhere, I suggest. Some of the film's humor seems obvious to me--the use of rotund Gallic comedian Moustache borders upon parody at times; but this is a fundamentally light-hearted romp of a film from its flimsy but serviceable premise to its satisfying romantic conclusion. It is a comedy; and it turns upon O'Toole's ability to devise a means of stealing a well-guarded art object from a major French Museum, a physical feat which he proves to be quite capable of achieving. The reason he is asked by Hepburn to plan that robbery is that the lovely statue now on display is about to be examined and authenticated by experts--and her father created the work, as he has created so many others, his charming and adroit forgeries. There are several other currents at work in the plot as well; there is a U.S. buyer after the piece, Hepburn 's belief that her champion is a crook turns out to be an unfounded assumption, and he is falling in love with her as she is with him throughout the unfolding of actions and events. The production is expensive-looking but never "heavy" in feel to my way of thinking. Givenchy did Miss Hepburn's gowns, Charles Lang was the cinematographer, and the production design by Alexander Trauner and the bubbly music by John Williams both served the story very strongly. In the cast, O'Toole and Hepburn seem perfectly mismatched; she is a bit inconsistent, I believe not knowing how "old" to play her part; O'Toole is intelligent, and plays both a crook with a sense of humor and a romantic admirer of Miss Hepburn's very successfully. Her father who proudly but inadvertently loans the piece to the Museum and misses the clause relative to its being examined by experts is Hugh Griffith, who suggests as much as he blusters. His likability is the key to the plot, because if he were not talented and likable and worth saving, the viewers would not accept the story-line'e basic premise--much ado to save him. Eli Wallach is bright as usual as the obsessed would-be buyer; others in the cast include Charles Boyer, Fernand Gravey, Marcel Dallio, Jacques Mann, the aforementioned Moustache and Roger Treville. The film is often discussed as if it were a trifle, a cinematic glass of champagne and a delightful and only a bit-overlong comedy. the attitudes expressed miss the three points of the film...It is noir, since the police cannot be brought into the case; it is comedy, which means its tone of light-heartedness and clever dialogue is very often exactly right; and its sub-plot is adventure, a very daring and ingenious combination of psychology, physical paraphernalia and enjoyable suspense. It is well-liked by many, and as a writer, I am certainly one of its admirers..
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