Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn
HOW TO STEAL A MILLION (1966). Director: William Wyler.

Nicole (Audrey Hepburn) lives in a big house in Paris with her father, Bonnet (Hugh Griffith of Craze), who forges paintings and sculptures and sells them to the highest bidder. Now Bonnet has agreed to lend a phony Cellini statue to a museum, which Nicole warns him is a mistake. It sure is -- the statue has to be authenticated for insurance purposes and it is sure to be exposed as a fake, which will also ruin Bonnet's reputation and call into question every sale he ever made. Nicole decides to steal the statue before the inspection can take place, and enlists the aid of a burglar, Simon (Peter O'Toole of The Ruling Class), that she caught apparently trying to steal one of her father's paintings. There's an undeniable attraction between the two, but can they actually steal the sculpture from such a heavily guarded museum ... ? Although director William Wyler [The Heiress, The Letter, Carrie, four star movies all] wasn't exactly a suspense specialist and was an odd choice for this assignment, he had worked with Audrey Hepburn more than once, and the film still has entertainment value, although it's hardly one of Wyler's best. Hepburn gives another terrific performance, matched by O'Toole, Griffith, and Eli Wallach as a suitor and art collector. Charles Boyer is fine in a brief bit as a colleague of Simon's. Bonnet is in many ways a reprehensible character with no true appreciation of art or artists when you get right down to it. Wyler directed Funny Girl after this, another odd choice.

Verdict: Light and fun if minor. ***.

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