How to Steal a Million (1966) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

How to Steal a Million (1966)

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Danny INDIFFERENTA mostly pleasant trifle. That's how I'd describe How to Steal a Million, and, man, I'm going to stick by it.

That being said, I'm going to try and stretch out this review to 500 words. Please bear with me, I do promise not to write in a Scottish accent again.

But, jeez, that would make this so much easier to write.

Anyway, calming down. Gonna write this review.

How to Steal a Million is the story of a young Parisian woman whose father is an art forger; he's played by Hugh Griffith with the usual aplomb. When one of her father's sculptures, on loan to a nearby museum, is at risk of being exposed, she scrambles and hires an art thief to help her steal the piece back before the test can be made. She enlists Peter O'Toole, about as daffy as he always is, and together they have a heist picture.

"Well, bugger this."

Not that that makes things any more interesting. Insofar as heist films go, the tension here is remarkably tepid, and while O'Toole has enough chemistry to pull off a romantic comedy with himself, Hepburn seems constrained into a harpie role that only allows her to be shrill and decidedly drawn back. I can't tell if she's on autopilot or just poorly serviced by the script, but the character she plays feels decidedly non-existent.

Imagine, if you will, that you are the daughter of a man who specializes in forging other artists' works. Would you greet this with exasperation every day? What moral code did you grow up under? Why do you act more like his disgruntled harpie mother than his daughter? Oh, man, have I just used 'harpie' twice in one review?

She's not that bad, but she's not very damn interesting, that's for sure. Hepburn's character is such a non-character that it pains me to characterize her in such a way.

When Audrey Hepburn isn't even called upon to do an open mouth gape of horror, you know your comedy is on lousy footing.

The film is Hepburn's third with director William Wyler after Roman Holiday and The Children's Hour, and whatever synergy they had in those films has sputtered and stalled. Wyler's touch, while always delicate, can't help this turd of a script. Generic Romantic Caper Movie #784 has defeated him here.

Wow! 400 words. Not bad.

While How to Steal a Million is a step above Paris When it Sizzles and a lot of other Hepburn's more forgettable romantic comedies (like, um...), it's still a trifle. A pleasant trifle, but a trifle. Mostly.


Audrey Hepburn Sundays

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Posted by Danny

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  1. Eli Wallach played the rich American (Davis Leland). Her father was played by the incomparable Hugh Griffith.

    And while it is a trifle, it’s a pleasant way to spend 2 hours on a rainy night.

  2. Yeah, it wasn’t her finest hour, but it was still great to see her teamed with Peter O’Toole. Charles Boyer was essentially wasted in a small cameo role (I’m assuming he didn’t want to take on such a demanding role so soon after his only child’s suicide), and this seemed like a slight take on “Topkapi” which was a bit more engaging. It definitely takes suspension of belief to accept that Hepburn and O’Toole can repeatedly go under that security rope multiple times, IN PLAIN SIGHT without getting caught. Would have been more engaging had the museum guards not been played like Keystone Kops.

    ** 1/2 out of ****

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