How To Steal A Million

How To Steal A Million (1966)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Peter O’Toole
Extras: Commentary Track, Biography Featurette, Trailer

There are certain films they just don’t make any more and these charming crime capers like "How To Steal A Million" are just some of them, sadly. I am not entirely sure, why these romanticized, playful and funny films that were full of atmosphere are no longer desired but I don’t want to divulge into what I think makes a good movie and what is just superfluous. Suffice it to say that I greatly admire and enjoy movies like "How To Steal A Million" and how much I value having these gems available on DVD.

The film tells the story of Monsieur Bonnet (Hugh Griffith) a respected art collector in Paris, who is in actuality a seasoned forger painting all the art in his collection himself, only to sell the pieces at a later date to unsuspecting, salivating millionaires. His daughter Nicole (Audrey Hepburn) doesn’t approve of her father’s trade and one night she catches a burglar in the house who is all over her father’s Van Gogh – Simon Dermott (Peter O’Toole) She feels pity for the fumbling burglar, especially when she accidentally shoots him in the arm and decides to let him go free – even more, she decides to drive him home.
The next day Bonnet signs a 1-million dollar insurance contract for a statuette he has on display at a local museum but realizes only too late that it also involves an authenticity check of the figurine, which is, of course, a fake. He and Nicole immediately understand that uncovering the forgery would put an end to Bonnet’s career and so Nicole decides to hire a thief to steal the precious Venus statuette from the museum before the experts get to it. Since Dermott is the only thief she knows, it is him she hires, and so ensues a great and hilarious caper to prevent Bonnet’s secret to be revealed.

To a large degree the quality of the film is a result the cast, lead by the ever-radiant and magnetic Audrey Hepburn. One of the prettiest women of her time, Hepburn is once again turning on the charm and turns every frame she’s in into a glowing piece of art in its own right. She is perfectly complemented by a young Peter O’Toole who is equally radiant and together they have some great chemistry going as they make their way through this story. Supported by first class actors such as Hugh Griffith, Charles Boyer, Eli Wallach and others, the film always has the right amount of "classic" charm to make it so enjoyable to watch.

The production is also marvelous with some great sets and wardrobe, as well as beautiful images of Paris. The pacing of the story is perfectly balanced creating funny as well as suspenseful moments at just the right time to keep audiences intrigued and interested.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has prepared a great-looking transfer of the movie for this DVD in the movie’s original 2.35:1 <$PS,widescreen> aspect ratio. The transfer has been cleaned up and is mostly free of defects or speckles and also shows very little grain. The level of detail in the transfer is remarkably good and makes this a sparkling viewing, completely belying the film’s age.
Color reproduction is full-bodied and rich, bringing out the best of the production while also rendering skin tones naturally without color push or bleeding. Black levels are solid giving the image good visual depth and always maintains a good shadow definition. No edge-enhancement or compression artifacts distract form the viewing experience.

The DVD features the original mono audio track of the film as well as a stereo remix. Both tracks are clean and free of defects, though the frequency response is somewhat limited, audibly dating the film. However, scenes never appear harsh or shrill and are free of distortion.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment also added a <$commentary,commentary track> to this release, featuring Eli Wallach as well as director William Wyler’s daughter Catherine. It is an interesting trip down memory lane as the two share a lot of thoruhgts and memories they have for the production of this film as well as Wyler’s work in general. I am very happy that Fox went the extra mile to bring in these two cast members for the commentary. Of course, it would have been great to have Peter O’Toole partaking as well, but I certainly realize that O’Toole is not the most accessible actor.

Audrey Hepburn’s "A&E Biography" is also included, shedding some more light on the life of this remarkable actress and her career both on and off the screen.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has put together a very nice package for this classic and beloved crime caper. Funny, entertaining, playful and suspenseful, this is one of the great movies of the 60s that has now found a luminous new home on DVD. Fans of these films will devour this DVD, no doubt.