How To Steal A Million – Audrey Hepburn In A Heist Drama

01 May

A heist movie made in 1966, I was not sure it was a very good idea. But I watched it only for Audrey Hepburn, she is so beautiful and fabulous, I just adore her. The movie was set in Paris and was a romantic comedy laced with the heist drama which forms the crux of the movie. It was a very well made movie for 1966, the romantic lines were very good, as were the comic sequences.

how-to-steal-a-millionAudrey Hepburn was wonderful in the movie, playing Nicole Bonnet, daughter of an artist who indulges in creating fake paintings and sculptures. Charles Bonnet is the artist in question, who not only makes fake art work but also auctions it for huge amount of money which only the rich and wealthy can afford. Nicole makes efforts to convince her dad to go no further in this, as its fraught with danger.

While Charles is away on one such auction night, an intruder gains entry into their palatial house and is found inspecting a von Gogh fake painting. Nicole holds out a gun to warn him against making any further move or attempting to steal the painting. While they are still in a verbal duel, the gun misfires and the bullet brushes past the intruder thereby injuring him. While Nicole attends to his bleeding arm he introduces himself as Simon Dermott. He is suave, handsome and charming; and he charms Nicole into dropping him at Hotel Ritz where he has been staying.

In the meantime Charles agrees to lend a sculpture named Cellini Venus to be displayed in a museum. The fake sculpture, priced at a million dollar, makes it to the museum and is put under strict security. When the curator of the museum explained the security measure, I was taken aback. The sculpture is placed in the center of the museum and there are blue beams around it which emit infra-red rays and the circuit gets completed when the rays reach the bottom vessel. If any object comes between this, meaning someone tries to put forward their hand to even touch the sculpture, the circuit will break and alarms will ring. So, here’s the germ of the idea that’s been copied in so many of our movies like Jugnu and more recently in Bade Miyan Chote Miyan.

When Nicole goes visiting the museum, she runs into Simon again. And Simon is totally smitten by her and invites her for drink, but Nicole is not interested. I felt the movie was dragging a bit because the romance was given way too much screen-time. So, when, how and why does the heist drama happen?

Here’s the twist that brings us to the real drama. The sculpture has to be brought back to Charles house from the museum and for that he has to sign an insurance which will cover the cost in case of any natural disaster at the time of transportation. But the catch is that, the sculpture will have to undergo chemical and x-ray test for technical reasons. After having signed the insurance document Charles realizes what a folly he has committed. He is scared that the test may expose the age of the sculpture, thereby revealing that its a fake.

When Nicole learns of this she decides that the only way to prevent the chemical/x-ray tests is to steal the sculpture. But how would she do it amidst such tight security? She thinks of Simon and calls upon him to help her. Will they succeed in stealing the painting? Will the heist be pulled-off without any hiccups or will the plan be foiled?

As mentioned before, the movie is a rom-com and there are regular doses of humor. Charles Bonnet as the fake artist comes up with really funny one-liners, like, when he says that van Gogh sold just one painting in his lifetime, while Charles has sold 2 fake masterpiece paintings. The scenes between Nicole and Simon are filled with confusion, humor and love; even the plot to steal is done comically and not in a technical way. Its more like pulling a fast one on the cops and security team by deception. In between all this, Nicole gets engaged to an American tycoon named Davis Leland, who comes close to Nicole so that he can obtain the sculpture.

Finally, coming to the starcast, Audrey Hepburn was fantastic in the movie.  She was as beautiful as ever, and her effortless acting was marvellous. The movie was directed very well by William Wyler. I had not heard of him at all before this movie. Later I learned that he has been nominated for a record 12 Oscars as Best Director and won 3 of them, Ben-Hur and Roman Holiday being some of the prestigious works in his filmography. And every bit of his talent showed in this movie. Simon Dermott was played gracefully by Peter O’Toole, another talented actor who has been nominated for 8 Oscars as Best Actor. His charm and the warmth of his blue eyes is enough to set any woman on fire. Now, I have to get hold of other movies by William Wyler and Peter O’Toole, watch them. As far as Audrey is concerned, I have already lined-up Charade, a movie which co-stars Cary Grant.

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Posted by on May 1, 2009 in hollywood, movies


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