How to Steal a Million
|How to Steal a Million|
|Directed by||William Wyler|
|Produced by||William Wyler
|Written by||George Bradshaw (story)
|Music by||John Williams|
|Editing by||Robert Swink|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Release dates||July 13, 1966|
|Running time||123 min.|
|Box office||$4.4 million (rentals)|
How to Steal a Million is a 1966 heist comedy film, directed by William Wyler and starring Audrey Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, Eli Wallach and Hugh Griffith. The picture is set and was filmed in France, though the characters speak entirely in English. Audrey Hepburn's clothes were designed by Givenchy.
Charles Bonnet (Hugh Griffith) is selling a famous portrait by Cézanne at an auction. His daughter, Nicole (Audrey Hepburn), is driving on her way home when she hears over the radio that her father's painting sold at the auction for $515,000. Nicole rushes home and, in a secret room in the house, confronts her father about the sale. It is revealed that Charles is an art forger, and the sold Cézanne was a fake he created. He shows her a Vincent van Gogh portrait that he has finished copying and mentions a sculpture of the Cellini Venus forged by her grandfather.
Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of the curator of Kléber-Lafayette Museum. Charles tells Nicole he is loaning the statue to the museum for their upcoming exhibition. The curator soon leaves, and Nicole argues with her father as she is concerned that the Venus may be tested for authenticity. Charles doesn't seem to care and insists that nobody will find out, since the museum has no reason to test the sculpture.
That night, Nicole is home alone while Charles is at the exhibition's opening event. While in bed she hears a noise coming from downstairs. She sneaks down to the foyer with a gun and finds Simon Dermmot (Peter O'Toole) holding the Van Gogh that her father made. Believing him to be a burglar, Nicole aims the gun at Simon and makes him return the painting to the wall, then goes to call the police. He convinces her not to, but when Nicole puts down the gun it accidentally discharges, shooting him in the arm. After cleaning his wound, he guilt-trips Nicole into driving him home, then kisses her goodbye outside his hotel.
Nicole returns home in a daze, and tells her father, who is back home, about the robbery. She tells him that she let him go because she didn't want a police investigation around his fake masterpiece. Meanwhile, Simon examines a paint fragment he took from the fake Van Gogh painting in his hotel room. It is later revealed he was hired to investigate whether the painting is real, or a forgery by Charles.
Some time later, Nicole is having dinner with wealthy American tycoon, Davis Leland (Eli Wallach). She is suspicious of Davis, believing he knows her father is an art forger. When he leaves briefly to answers a telephone call, Simon appears again, begging to meet her later on. She snaps at him to go away, and he eventually leaves. Davis returns and confesses to Nicole he is in love with the Cellini Venus, and arranged the dinner in order to convince her to sell it to him. Relieved that he doesn't suspect anything, she kisses him and tells him that the statue is not for sale.
The next day, an employee from the museum arrives at Charles' home and asks for Charles's signature on the $1,000,000 insurance policy for the sculpture. After signing it, the man asks if he wants to be present during the technical examination. He goes on to say that it's only a formality that it be checked if it is real or not.
Desperate to save her father from being caught and sent to prison, Nicole meets with Simon and asks him to steal the Venus for her. They both examine the museum, with Simon initially showing very little understanding of how they can steal the Venus. After a walk in the park, and after buying some boomerang toys, Simon explains that he does have a plan to steal the Venus, but doesn't tell her what it is.
On the night of the heist, Davis shows up again at Nicole and Charles' home before Nicole can leave to meet Simon. David asks her to marry him. Not wanting to be late, she quickly takes the ring and leaves for the museum.
Nicole and Simon hide in the museum in a utility closet and wait for the museum to close. After making note of how often the guards check the museum, Simon sets off the security alarm surrounding the Cellini Venus using a boomerang he bought at the park. The guards and police rush in and check the museum, but upon finding that nothing is missing, they soon leave and the alarm is reset.
Still hiding in the closet, Simon questions Nicole about the statue's technical examination the next day, and reveals that he knew all along that the statue was a fake. He only stayed with Nicole because he was in love with her, and they kiss.
Continuing with their plan, Simon sets off the alarm again. This time after finding that nothing is missing again, the frustrated guards turn the security system completely off. Simon steals the statue and places it in a bucket for Nicole, now disguised as a cleaning lady. Once the cleaning women come, Nicole slips in with them and heads to the guards' room as instructed by Simon. Once in she finds Simon there, dressed as a security guard. They then escape through the exit in the basement.
The next morning after the news of the robbery has spread, Davis quickly looks for a lead in the missing statue, desperate to get to it at any cost. He is referred to Simon, who he meets with for lunch. Simon says he will give the Venus to him, but that he can never mention the statue to anyone, or see Nicole again because it is crucial to the operation. Davis quickly leaves, panicking as he passes Nicole on his way out, leaving her confused. Nicole joins Simon at his table to celebrate the robbery. Nicole mentions the encounter with Davis to Simon, explaining that all she had wanted was to give back the engagement ring. Simon finally reveals to Nicole (still believing him to be a professional burglar) that he is in fact a private investigator specialising in art forgeries, and was originally hired to break into her home to test Charles' painting.
At some time in the future, Simon talks with Charles and convinces him to stop forging paintings. However, as Simon and Nicole (now married) leave for their honeymoon, they see a man show up at the house. Charles quickly embraces him, hinting that this man is a customer to whom he is eager to sell a painting to, implying that he isn't done with his forgery business just yet.
- Audrey Hepburn - Nicole Bonnet
- Peter O'Toole - Simon Dermott
- Hugh Griffith - Charles Bonnet
- Eli Wallach - Davis Leland
- Charles Boyer - DeSolnay
- Fernand Gravey - Grammont
- Marcel Dalio - Paravideo
- Jacques Marin - Head of Security
- Roger Tréville - Auctioneer
- Edward Malin - Insurance Clerk (as Eddie Malin)
How to Steal a Million was a critical and commercial hit upon its original release. The film currently scores 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
- A verbal exchange between Nicole and her father during the film ("Papa!" "Nicole") was borrowed and adapted in a successful series of commercials for the Renault Clio.
- The robbery scenes in the film were later copied for the Hindi film Loafer.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p254
- Solomon p 230. See also "Big Rental Pictures of 1966", Variety, 4 January 1967 pg 8.
- "How to Steal a Million". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
- "Va va Voom".
- "Review of Loafer". Shankar's Weekly 25 (2). 1972.
- "Loafer - movie review". Planet Bollywood.