7.4/10
24,913
140 user 128 critic

Thief (1981)

Trailer
1:51 | Trailer
A former ace safe-cracker is trying to go straight--if he can score one last big heist for the mob.

Director:

Michael Mann

Writers:

Frank Hohimer (novel), Michael Mann (screen story) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
4,062 ( 45)
2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
James Caan ... Frank
Tuesday Weld ... Jessie
Willie Nelson ... Okla
Jim Belushi ... Barry (as James Belushi)
Robert Prosky ... Leo
Tom Signorelli ... Attaglia
Dennis Farina ... Carl
Nick Nickeas Nick Nickeas ... Nick
W.R. Brown W.R. Brown ... Mitch (as W.R. [Bill] Brown)
Norm Tobin Norm Tobin ... Guido
John Santucci John Santucci ... Urizzi
Gavin MacFadyen Gavin MacFadyen ... Boreksco
Chuck Adamson Chuck Adamson ... Ancell
Sam Cirone Sam Cirone ... Martello
Spero Anast Spero Anast ... Bukowski
Edit

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

Taglines:

Cheat him...and he'll BLOW YOU AWAY See more »


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

The screenplay for this film was adapted from the novel "The Home Invaders", written by Frank Hohimer, a professional thief. Hohimer was serving time in prison at the time this film was in production. See more »

Goofs

Frank's mentor at the steel mill said, "Seven-, Eight-thousand degrees. Portable equipment! Sonny, if I can build it, it's going to be a son-of-a-bitch to use." Given that and the small hole cut at the top of the elevator shaft, how did Frank and his crew get into the vault room with all the welding equipment, oxygen and acetylene tanks without using the elevator? See more »

Quotes

Okla: Lie to no one. If there 's somebody close to you, you'll ruin it with a lie. If they're a stranger, who the fuck are they you gotta lie to them?
See more »

Alternate Versions

In 1995, Thief was released in a new LaserDisc set billed as the 'Special Director's Edition', which was carried over to the film's 1998 DVD release. For 16 years, this was the only home video release of the film in the US until Criterion's 2014 edition. Differences between this version and the theatrical version are as follows: 1. There is a new scene with Wille Dixon on the bank on the Chicago river. Scene takes place directly after Caan's car drives away from the opening heist. A slow dissolve has been added that transitions to this new scene (normally the film cuts directly to Frank at the car lot) 2. Beach Scene - Mann removed a slow-motion shot of Tuesday Weld walking with the baby. First she is smiling, then looks over at Frank with a sort of melancholy expression. The whole shot is only about 7 seconds long -- but it is nowhere to be found in the "Special Director's Edition". In order to make up for the lost seconds, Mann make two editorial choices that end up hurting the original music/visual flow of the film. a) In the theatrical cut, we clearly see Caan light up the cigarette, then he nods his head a few times -- then on the music beat change -- cut to the Beach Scene. Perfect match of Tangerine Dream's music and visual cut. b) In the Special Director's Edition -- Mann cuts a few seconds from Caan's victory nod -- then cuts to the Beach Scene *before* the music cue change. Then Mann just slows down the images of the waves (to make up for the time lost) before the camera pans up to Frank. No music-visual cut transition. 3. House Exploding - when comparing the Theatrical and Director's Edition, there seems to be better clarity in the explosion. Screen appears to blow-out to white in the Director's Edition that looks different. This is only very slight and probably only noticeable if you watch both side by side. 4. Confrontation Shootout - Mann used a video post-production technique to speed up several shots/frames during the final shootout. a) When Frank shoots Attaglia, the body appears to hit the ground faster. b) When Frank is shot by Carl (Dennis Farina), and you can see the window break on the car and Frank falls to the ground -- all this has been sped up. c) When Frank shoots Carl, he falls back (in three cuts) into the bushes. See more »


Soundtracks

Final Confrontation
(uncredited)
Written by Craig Safan
Performed by Tangerine Dream
Played during the last scene and the end credits
See more »

User Reviews

a real classic!
21 October 2001 | by dtucker86See all my reviews

Even though this film was made only a little over two decades ago, I consider it a film-noir classic! James Caan said once that this was the film he was in that he was proudest of next to The Godfather. I remember that Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel said this was one of the finest films of 1981. Caan is wonderful in a role that he was born to play, a tough guy with his heart on his sleeve. Everything about this film is wonderful from the musical score by Tangerine Dream to the dark lighting effects to the authentic detail about the life of a thief ( I read that Michael Mann actually used real life thieves as technical advisors to this film!). Even though Caan's character is an anti-hero, you have to feel sorry for him because he is caught in a situation where there is no way out! The best scene in the film is where he tells Tuesday Weld about his prison experiences and shows here the picture cut out that he has made of his American dream. Jimmy Caan is truly awesome, he is the only actor that ever made me cry (in Brian's Song) I also wanted to mention another great character actor who is in the film. His name is Robert Prosky and he plays the mob boss who uses Caan. This was his film debut after many years as a stage actor and he is terrific. Watch the scene in the acid plant where he threatens Caan. He is really chilling! Michael Mann created Crime Story and Miami Vice and he also directed Manhunter, but lets not forget this film as well.


74 of 84 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 140 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 March 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Thief See more »

Edit

Box Office

Budget:

$5,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$11,492,915

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$11,492,915
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mann/Caan Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed