Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Review: How to Steal a Million


After reading a great post on Art Blog by Bob about famous forger, Han van Meegeren, I was reminded of the 1966 William Wyler film How to Steal a Million, starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O'Toole. It's an art-heist romantic comedy featuring some great performances.

Audrey Hepburn stars as Nicole Bonnet--a hard-working, earnest young woman who whose father, Charles Bonnet (a delightful Hugh Griffith) just happens to be a brilliant art forger who's made a fortune passing his work off as originals by old masters. One night while her father is out for the evening, Nicole discovers a rather well-mannered burglar (Peter O'Toole) who appears to be stealing one of her father's paintings. After accidentally shooting him, she drives him home so that the police won't be called (the paint is still drying on the canvas of the fake Van Gogh that O'Toole appeared to be stealing).

Later, Nicole's father Charles receives a visit from a museum that wants to borrow the family's "Cellini Venus"--the sculpture that forms the foundation of the Bonnet family's reputation as great art collectors. Charles signs a form insuring the sculpture for 1 million dollars, only to discover that in doing so he's effectively consented to have the sculpture tested to insure its authenticity. After confessing to his daughter that the sculpture is a fake, sculpted by her grandfather, with her grandmother posing--"before she started having those enormous lunches!"--Griffith's character panics, fearing the sculpture will be exposed as a fake and destroy his reputation.

Nicole reassures her father that she has an idea: she'll enlist the help of the burglar she's met (Peter O'Toole) in order to steal the sculpture back from the museum, before they can finalise the tests. What follows is a humorous caper film, filled with great views of Paris (the old Hotel Ritz, in particular). Hepburn also sports a memorable, elegant Givenchy wardrobe. The film is great, light-hearted fare. Eli Wallach puts in a particularly memorable performance as a crazed art collector who will do anything to get his hands on "the Venus."

The following scene takes place at Nicole Bonnet's mansion, after O'Toole's character has broken in to test one of her father's paintings.



Image courtesy Amazon.com

8 comments:

Amanda said...

Oh I love that movie! I think it's a great film and I just love Audrey Hepburn. Thanks for the post!

willow said...

This is a great movie. And one of the things I like most is Audrey's wardrobe...it's terrific! Another very nice review.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

This post was such a treat! Thanks.
One cannot do better than Audrey and Peter.

lotusgreen said...

isn't it cool that the antiquated concepts of 'high' and 'low' art have finally fallen for most of us.

if i recall correctly, i think the thing that was most impressive about this movie for me was that audrey was a bad guy.

or not....

M.Kate said...

How interesting! ..and when i read your caption at my sidebar, i really thought you'll pass out some tips for fast bucks.hahahaa..

Margaret said...

Haha, I didn't even think about how that might sound!

Sheramy said...

I'm SUCH an Audrey fan, and I love this film too!! Oh yes, the Givenchy wardrobe...so dreamy. So's Peter O'Toole, for that matter. ;-)

Films gets bonus points for making a fake van Gogh part of the plot. ;-) Audrey, being Dutch, says his name correctly!

Margaret said...

Yes, it's amazing how handsome Peter O'Toole was before the smoking and drinking did him in (can you believe he's only in his mid-seventies? He looks 90 at least these days). Anyway, I always wondered if that was how you are supposed to pronounce van Gogh! I tried saying it that way for a while, but stopped out of fear that it sounded a bit too affected.