April 11, 2010

For The Love of Peter O'Toole: How to Steal a Million

How to Steal a Million (William Wyler, 1966)
Role: Simon Dermott, suave cat burglar

So, a lot of people really like this movie because of Audrey Hepburn and her Givenchy wardrobe. There's no doubt she's elegant as all hell in the film, but I've never been a big Hepburn fan. I find her acting about as slight as her waistline and dull, dull, dull. But I know I'm in the minority here. However, Hepburn's rather surface charms are exactly the point in How to Steal a Million, which, if heist movies were cookies, would certainly be a vanilla wafer. O'Toole and Hepburn are probably the thinnest couple ever in a mainstream film, so stylish and attractive in their well-tailored suits, traipsing around Paris in O'Toole's delicious yellow Jaguar XKE

Seriously, just look at these GQMFs. 

Anyway, the plot. Audrey's father is a kooky old art forger who's rather brazenly donates his own forgery of the Cellini Venus to some museum, except that--oops!--the museum needs to authenticate the statue. So, Audrey hires O'Toole (who's conveniently just broken into her house) to steal the Venus back from the museum so they don't get busted. Blah-de-blah, through a series of quirky and amusing goingson, Hepburn and O'Toole spend a large part of the film stuffed into a supply cupboard where the close quarters and lack of oxygen make them fall in love with each other. Some other stuff happens and everyone lives happily, and stylishly, ever after. I told you it was slight. As someone who prefers their heist films tense and gritty (RififiHeat), viewing How to Steal a Million as such is bound to be a disappointment. I suppose 'light comic diversion' would be a more accurate category. Either way, if you watch the film, don't expect much. Just detach your brain and focus your eyeballs; it's like visual cotton candy. 

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