How To Steal A Million
Tuesday, 12.50pm, Ch4
Sometimes, seriousness is overrated, and pure, unabashed entertainment is all that is needed – which makes How To Steal A Million just the ticket.
The perfect little romp for a spot of afternoon viewing, William Wyler’s carefully constructed confection stars Audrey Hepburn – Givenchy-clad as ever and at her quirkiest (note the typically oddball ensemble below as a case in point). Here, she is Nicole, the upstanding daughter of third-generation forger Charles Bonnet (Hugh Griffith), who, it transpires, has just loaned the family’s remarkable ‘Cellini Venus’ to a Paris museum. However, both father and daughter know that grandpapa modelled the sculpture on grandmama, and under no circumstances can they let it undergo the museum’s rigorous testing policy. Enter Simon Dermott (the always engaging Peter O’toole), the ‘society burglar’ Nicole discovers creeping around the house one night and blackmails into helping her to steal back the phoney figurine. Cue chaos.
It’s obvious from the start exactly where this smart-talking trifle is heading; the trappings are very 1960s; and the odd scene is milked beyond its comic potential – but none of that makes it any less of a delight.
The story behind the film
Not generally noted for his comedies, William Wyler had originally had a much darker mood in mind for How To Steal A Million. He’d intended to make it after his 1953 hit Roman Holiday (again with Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck), and had approached up-and-coming director Stanley Kubrick – who had recently enjoyed success with heist thriller The Killing – to contribute ideas. Posterity doesn’t note what went wrong, but we must assume that it is our gain.
And the advertising world’s... Eagle-eyed viewers with long(ish) memories will have no trouble spotting the scene that inspired an iconic 1990s automobile advertising campaign (the words ‘Papa!’ and ‘Nicole!’ should give you sufficient of a clue). Vicky Thompson
12.30AM, SKY PREMIERE