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Thief (1981)

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1:52 | Trailer

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Coming closer to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safecracker agrees to do a job for the Mafia, who has other plans for him.

Director:

Michael Mann

Writers:

Frank Hohimer (novel), Michael Mann (screen story) | 1 more credit »
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Popularity
4,733 ( 2,214)
2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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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 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
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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

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 March 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Thief See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,500,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

James Caan went to Gunsite (then known as the American Pistol Institute) in Paulden, AZ to learn proper gun handling. It's owner, retired Marine Lt. Col. Jeff Cooper did not hold the belief that a professional thief would take the time and discipline to learn to use firearms, clear rooms and properly handle weapons. He had his chief instructor, Chuck Taylor teach him as much as he could in 3 days. The training stuck and Caan has shown similar gun handling in Alien Nation and The Way Of The Gun. See more »

Goofs

The door Frank closes when he first backs out of Attaglia's office is closed, but in the next scene it is slightly open and Frank slams it shut on his way out. See more »

Quotes

Jessie: Do you have a license for this?
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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Last Horror Film (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Turning Point
(uncredited)
Written by Leo Graham
Performed by Tyrone Davis
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Michael Mann's best movie, with James Caan' best performance. 'Thief' is a hardboiled crime classic not to be missed!
11 March 2003 | by InfofreakSee all my reviews

'Thief' is one of the most underrated movies of the 1980s, if not of all time. Made in the early 80s by TV veteran Michael Mann, and co-produced by the future "king" of action blockbusters Jerry Bruckheimer, this movie can almost be seen as the transition from 1970s character based crime DRAMA to 1980s flashy but brainless 1980s crime ACTION. In that sense 'Thief' is the last great 1970s movie of the 1980s. Mann made at least two great movies after this ('Manhunter' and 'Heat'), but I still think it is is his best and most satisfying work. James Caan believes that the movie contains his finest performance and I'm inclined to agree with him. Caan is dynamite throughout. He oozes charisma and is impossible to take your eyes off, but also gives a subtle and complex performance. The film works both as an exciting caper movie, and as a human drama. In many ways it is the best crime film to pull that off since Dassin's 'Rififi' in the mid 1950s. Cann is helped by a superb supporting cast, who on the surface may seem a motley bunch, but all are very good - Tuesday Weld ('Who'll Stop The Rain'), Jim Belushi (his movie debut), a memorable cameo from country legend Willie Nelson, and especially a fantastic turn from Robert Prosky. Prosky is probably best known to most viewers as the kindly father-figure he played in 'Hill Street Blues'. His turn here as a ruthless gangster is a complete eye opener! Prosky delivers one of the most vicious lines ever heard in a movie, which is a bit too extreme for me to quote here, but believe me, you will never forget it when you hear it! Many people seem to find Tangerine Dream's dated synth score to be extremely irritating but I actually enjoyed it and thought it helped build the mood. 'Thief' is a hardboiled crime classic and is highly recommended to any fan of the genre, especially those made in the 1970s. It is wildly underrated and deserves to be rediscovered by a larger audience. 'Thief' is simply one of THE great "lost" classics of the last thirty years.


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