Hepburn and O'Toole's Bonnet Affair
"How to Steal a Million" is a movie of two halves and frankly suffers because of it, going from slow and meandering too contrived but entertaining. Actually take that back as the whole movie is as contrived as it gets but it's meant to be because "How to Steal a Million" is one of those light hearted comedy crime capers about a robbery and trades on the likeability of it's stars the charming Peter O'Toole and the delightful Audrey Hepburn.
When Nicole (Audrey Hepburn - Charade) learns that her father Charles Bonnet (Hugh Griffith - Kind Hearts and Coronets), a notorious art forger, is lending his statue of the Cellini Venus to a museum exhibition she is less than impressed especially as it is a fake made by her grandfather. But things get worse when they learn that the museum wants to run tests on it for insurance purposes, especially as they will discover that it is a fake and bring her father's dubious art collection into question. So with the help of charmer Simon Dermott (Peter O'Toole - Stardust) they devise a plan to steal the statue despite the huge security system used to protect it.
The first half of "How to Steal a Million" is almost laborious as it goes around setting up the various characters and relationships mixing undeniably stylish surroundings with simple and wide ranging humour. But in doing so it struggles to engage as it not so much meanders but generally floats along delivering some fun moments amongst what is a formulaic set up. Even the humorous initial interactions between Nicole and Simon as she believes he is a thief really fails to work other than to set up the characters of Simon as a suave sophisticated charmer and Nicole being pretty and tom boy like.
It's not until all the set up is dealt with and we get to the actual robbery and it's planning does "How to Steal a Million" really start to find it's stride. The absurdly contrived way the robbery is not only devised but also acted out works because it is genuinely humorous. But it is the fact that this part fo the movie concentrates on the pairing of Nicole and Simon as they try to pull of the heist. It's the interactions between Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn which makes it entertaining and although it never really reaches the level of being simmering there is an undeniable chemistry between them that makes it worth watching.
Whilst Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn are the undeniable stars they are helped by a couple of enjoyable supporting performances with Hugh Griffith delivering a wonderfully over the top theatrical performance as art forger Bonnet. Plus Eli Wallach who plays art collector Davis Leland although to be frank it's a minor role, just Wallach makes it into more and shockingly looks like a young Joe Pesci in all his scenes.
But at its heart "How to Steal a Million" is just another fun 60's crime caper with no real cleverness, although it does have a pleasant enough twist. It is entertaining, amusing, fun to watch but then not overly memorable with a storyline which seems more intent on trying to get a few laughs than anything else.
What this all boils down to is that "How to Steal a Million" is a perfectly charming comedy caper with Peter O'Toole and Audrey Hepburn providing a nice pairing. But other than that it is a stereotypical 60s caper, full of style, entertaining music and nice moments of comedy but a storyline which fails to really grab your attention past the obvious pairing of O'Toole and Hepburn.