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Thief (1981)

Trailer
1:52 | Trailer

On Disc

at Amazon

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 »
2 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

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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 »
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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

When Frank tries to light his cigarette in the diner scene, the lighter does not work. This was not scripted. The prison story that Frank tells in his monologue is based on a letter Michael Mann received from a real inmate. See more »

Goofs

When Sgt. Urizzi pulls over Frank for the first time, there is a gold sedan coming the other way, but when the scene immediately cuts to Urizzi going up to Frank's car, the gold sedan is gone. See more »

Quotes

Frank: He down our merch? Is it gone? Does he carry the cash on him, what?
Barry: I'm talking to somebody's somebody. I will know in about 25 minutes.
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 True Detective: Black Maps and Motel Rooms (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Confrontation
(uncredited)
Written by Craig Safan
Played during the last scene and the end credits
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Excellent character drama is worth watching for Caan's superb performance.
23 November 2007 | by hu675See all my reviews

Frank (James Caan) is a professional thief, who enjoys doing high profile jobs. He also owns an restaurant and sales cars for a living. He's tired of his other life as a thief. He hopes to settle down by having a wife, a family and a house. When he's been contacted by a mysterious business man (Robert Prosky). Which this man is the local crime boss of Chicago, who wants him to do a big score for him by robbing Diamonds. Once he succeed from his job, which Frank was hoping to be last job. But the mob boss turns on his back and treating his life by working for him until he dies. If Frank doesn't work for his boss, he will kill his wife (Tuesday Weld), his best friend (James Belushi) and destroy his entire life.

Written and Directed by Michael Mann (Ali, Heat, The Keep) made an stylish character drama is that extremely well directed and acted by the cast. Caan's performances makes this fascinating film works. It's certainly one of his best roles to date. The supporting cast are excellent as well, including Willie Nelson in a small role. This film was a box office disappointment, when it was first released. Now it's a cult classic... largely because of Mann's visual style, the performance, excellent cinematography by Donald E. Thorin (Midnight Run, Mischief, Tango & Cash) and Tangerine Dream's electronic score (Firestarter, Risky Business, Socerer). Look for some familiar faces as extras and bit-parts. Based on a novel by "The Home Invaders" by Frank Hohimer. Big time Hollywood Producer:Jerry Bruckheimer (Beverly Hills Cop, Black Hawk Down, The Rock) is one of the producers of this picture. This is a underrated movie worth seeing. (****/*****).


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