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Thief (1981)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  27 March 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 14,094 users   Metascore: 78/100
Reviews: 104 user | 79 critic | 8 from

Becoming closer to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safecracker agrees to do a job for the mafia, who have other plans for him.



(novel), (screen story), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Signorelli ...
Nick Nickeas ...
W.R. Brown ...
Mitch (as W.R. [Bill] Brown)
Norm Tobin ...
John Santucci ...
Gavin MacFadyen ...
Chuck Adamson ...
Sam Cirone ...
Spero Anast ...


Frank is an expert professional safecracker, specializing in high-profile diamond jobs. After having spent many years in prison, he has a very concrete picture of what he wants out of life--including a nice home, a wife, and kids. As soon as he is able to assemble the pieces of this collage, by means of his chosen profession, he intends to retire and become a model citizen. In an effort to accelerate this process, he signs on to take down a huge score for a big-time gangster. Unfortunately, Frank's obsession for his version of the American Dream allows him to overlook his natural wariness and mistrust, when making the deal for his final job. He is thus ensnared and robbed of his freedom, his independence, and, ultimately, his dream. Written by Tad Dibbern <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

thief | prison | heist | money | criminal | See All (209) »


Tonight, his take home pay is $410, free.


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

27 March 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Einzelgänger  »

Box Office


$4,300,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to James Belushi, on the documentary series "Directors", he says that Mann drove the costumer crazy trying to get Belushi a Hula shirt for the scene where they are casing the last vault. See more »


After Frank puts the transponder on the bus bound for Des Moines, the scene reveals the police car holding back traffic for the shot behind. See more »


Frank: I have run out of time. I have lost it all. So I can't work fast enough to catch up. I can't run fast enough to catch up. And the only thing that catches me up is doing my magic act.
See more »


Referenced in Il solitario (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

When James Caan was allowed to be real!
4 May 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This is one of the few Michael Mann films I can stand to watch. Caan is at his absolute peak here, with his intensity just blazing off the screen. The supporting cast is excellent, the edits are perfect, everything just clicks.

As has been noted by other reviewers, the technical aspects of this film are right on the money. All the locations are really there (or were at one time) and the settings didn't have to be faked up. Yes, Chicago and surrounding Chicagoland is really like this, folks.

I try to watch this thing every few years. Should buy a DVD, I guess, and insert it into my permanent circular film buffer.

Highly, highly recommended.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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When Barry tackles his wife on the beach ramcamcole
Fans of this film, get the Criterion release NOW! mountainjam819
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What does Frank do next? vpking77-276-694061
What's with the lady watching TV at the end? dullatron
The diner scene and other bits and pieces... hankmcn
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