- Nicole Bonnet, having recently shot Simon Dermott and now observing him grab his left arm: "Your arm is much better."
- Simon: "Oh, no, no. It hurts, it hurts!"
- Nicole: "It's the other arm!"
- Simon: "The infection is spreading."
Audrey Hepburn, with her timeless glamour and that delicate swan neck, is so damn disarming, I wish she'd shot me, too. When she accidentally pulls the trigger on Peter O'Toole - he was burgling her home, after all - the sequence which follows showcases not only her talent for light comedy and not only her not-too-shabby gams glimpsed thru the nightie, but also her sparkling chemistry with her male lead. I've seen O'Toole in his more highly touted flicks (LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, THE LION IN WINTER, MY FAVORITE YEAR, etc.), but I honestly have never liked him more than in this breezy romantic caper. And maybe part of it is because we see him thru Audrey Hepburn's eyes. Throughout the film, she bestows on him alternating glances of admiration and exasperation and bemusement. Of course, Hepburn, channeling her inner screwball, also has O'Toole reciprocating with his own series of wondering sidelong looks. And while O'Toole still comes across as wicked smug, to me, at least, it's not nearly as insufferable as in his other pictures. Here, he demonstrates an effortless comic timing and oodles of charm and is just a lot of fun.
The plot: Looks like French aristocrat Nicole Bonnet (Hepburn) had pretty much given up on reforming her master art forger of a father. At this stage she focuses more on minimizing the trouble he could land into. But when he donates the fake Cellini Venus statue to a museum and the museum then plans on an art specialist to examine the piece, a frantic Nicole hits on this brainstorm: Why not have a thief steal the Venus? Luckily, a dashing gentleman burglar had just broken into her home and although she'd ended up shooting him, they parted ways on good terms (because it's that kind of movie).
Based on a short story by George Bradshaw, HOW TO STEAL A MILLION hits the two hour mark, something which I really didn't note until the movie ended. The frothy storyline, the lighthearted score, the often playful dialogue brought to life by the bankable stars, and the romantic setting in the City of Lights - all these elements combine to make the film an entertaining watch, and it's really okay that HOW TO STEAL A MILLION isn't considered an "important" picture or regarded as one of the best ever produced by Hepburn or O'Toole. As she often does, Hepburn brings an air of style and sophistication, and in this one she's sensational in Givenchy, and, really, can a terrific romance be too far off? Peter O'Toole, he flashes those electric blue eyes and that rich, lordly delivery of his and motors around in that sleek canary yellow Jaguar two-seater. Their interplay is really fun to watch. Still, the centerpiece of the film features the overnight art museum heist, and how that caper unfolds is a demonstration in sheer cleverness. And then we're also treated to an unexpected brand of togetherness exhibited in a cramped broom closet. To echo Hepburn's breathy sentiment: "Marvelous."
Hepburn and O'Toole get good support from a veteran cast, from Hugh Griffith and his out-of-control eyebrows to a bit cameo from Charles Boyer. Classic character actor Eli Wallach plays a take-charge American art collector and, okay, maybe his side story isn't really necessary, but it's Eli friggin' Wallach!
The DVD bonus features include: audio commentaries (on separately recorded tracks) by Eli Wallach & Director William Wyler's daughter Catherine Wyler who provides most of the talky talk; the excellent 45-minute A&E Biography on Audrey Hepburn; the teaser trailer; the theatrical trailer; and two TV spots.
The only knock I have about this movie is that I'm not a fan of the beehive, even if Hepburn does pull it off. But Hepburn can probably rock a buzzcut and still soak in the accolades from the fashionistas.