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Thief (1981)

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.

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(novel), (screen story) | 1 more credit »
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2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Jessie
...
Okla
...
Barry (as James Belushi)
...
Leo
Tom Signorelli ...
Attaglia
...
Carl
Nick Nickeas ...
Nick
W.R. Brown ...
Mitch (as W.R. [Bill] Brown)
Norm Tobin ...
Guido
John Santucci ...
Urizzi
Gavin MacFadyen ...
Boreksco
Chuck Adamson ...
Ancell
Sam Cirone ...
Martello
Spero Anast ...
Bukowski
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Storyline

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 <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

thief | prison | heist | money | criminal | See All (232) »

Taglines:

Tonight, his take home pay is $410,000...tax free.


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 March 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Einzelgänger  »

Box Office

Gross:

$4,300,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to James Caan on the DVD commentary, Frank is based on John Santucci. But Caan avoided doing an impersonation of Santucci's exuberant personality because he felt that it would seem too comedic. See more »

Goofs

When Frank is with Joe Gaggs at the restaurant in the booth, Frank looks straight ahead to see Jessie at the counter. Yet, when Frank gets up to pay the tab he has to turn to his right to go to the counter; therefore, the line of sight is inconsistent, and there is no way Frank could have seen Jessie from where he was sitting. See more »

Quotes

Frank: Look, in what I do there are sometimes pressures. What the hell do you think that I do? Come on. Come on, every morning I walk in for five months, say hi - what the hell do you think that I do?
Jessie: You sell little fucking cars, that's what you do.
Frank: I wear $150 slacks, I wear silk shirts, I wear $800 suits, I wear a gold watch, I wear a perfect, D-flawless three carat ring. I change cars like other guys change their fucking shoes. I'm a thief. I've been in prison, all right?
Jessie: So what, I don't care.
Frank: So...
[...]
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Connections

Referenced in True Detective: Black Maps and Motel Rooms (2015) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A bit dated but still one of the finest action films ever made
3 February 2008 | by (Worcester, MA) – See all my reviews

"Thief" may fool some viewers into overlooking just how intelligently made it is, mainly because of how dated it initially appears. Its full of quick cuts, a pounding Tangerine Dream score, and flashy cars and clothing. Knowing that Michael Mann later made "Miami Vice", one may fear this will resemble a feature-length episode of that show. Fortunately, one realizes quickly that this is a really quality product. Its dated elements can't really be held against the filmmakers, and considering that "Scarface" was still two years away, this style could be considered a bit ahead of its time. The screenplay is just so powerful and well developed that it overcomes its limitations quickly. Mann is well known for making smart, character-driven action films, and "Thief" is no exception. This ranks with "Manhunter" as his finest achievement in my mind.

As good as the direction and script are, what really makes the film is James Caan. Caan has always been a criminally underrated performer, and as a strangely moral thief who wants to leave the business, he's never been better. He infuses a good deal of nuance and subtlety into the performance that only reveals itself with repeated viewings. Its proof that the man is as good as either DeNiro or Pacino. Tuesday Weld is also fantastic, offering possibly her finest performance (and she still looks terrific fifteen years after her peak of stardom). Even Willie Nelson and James Belushi give good portrayals. "Thief" is a really fantastic hardboiled crime thriller that appears a bit dated but ends up being as potent as ever. (8/10)


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