How to Steal a Million

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How to Steal a Million
Directed by William Wyler
Produced by William Wyler
Fred Kohlmar
Screenplay by Harry Kurnitz
Based on Venus Rising
1962 story in Practise to Deceive
by George Bradshaw
Starring Audrey Hepburn
Peter O'Toole
Eli Wallach
Hugh Griffith
Charles Boyer
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Charles Lang
Edited by Robert Swink
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 13, 1966 (1966-07-13)
Running time
123 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $6,480,000[1]
Box office $4.4 million (rentals)[2]

How to Steal a Million is a 1966 heist comedy film, directed by William Wyler and starring Audrey Hepburn, Peter O'Toole, Eli Wallach and Hugh Griffith. The picture is set and was filmed in France, though the characters speak entirely in English. Audrey Hepburn's clothes were designed by Givenchy.


Charles Bonnet is well-known as an art collector, but actually he forges paintings to sell them. His daughter, Nicole, disapproves of this, and is also afraid that he may get caught. Charles lends a renowned "Cellini" statuette of Venus to the Kléber-Lafayette Museum in Paris for an important exhibition. He has never sold it because modern testing would reveal it as a forgery (by his father).

That night Nicole finds a burglar, Simon Dermott, holding a "Van Gogh" forged by her father. She threatens him with an antique gun and it goes off accidentally. To avoid an investigation around the fake masterpieces, she does not call the police, but instead cleans Simon's flesh wound and drives him to his hotel. He suddenly kisses her goodbye.

Soon after, Nicole has a dinner date with American tycoon, Davis Leland. She fears he knows her father's secret, but in fact he is obsessed with owning the Cellini Venus. Davis arranged the dinner in order to buy it. Relieved, Nicole kisses him and tells him that the statue is not for sale.

The next day, a museum employee arrives and has Charles sign the insurance policy for the sculpture—and then mentions that Charles has just consented to a technical examination of it. Desperate to save her father from prison, Nicole asks Simon to use his burglary skills to steal the Venus for her. He agrees, but at first does not believe it is possible.

On the night of the heist, Davis shows up again at Charles and Nicole's home. Davis is so desperate to acquire the Cellini that he asks Nicole to marry him. Not wanting to be late, Nicole quickly accepts and leaves for the museum. Nicole and Simon hide in a utility closet until the museum closes. After noting the guards' routine, Simon sets off the security alarm surrounding the Cellini Venus using a toy boomerang, then catches it and hides. The guards and police rush in and check the museum, but nothing is missing, so they soon leave and reset the alarm.

Simon reveals that he knows why Nicole wants the statue stolen, which she confirms. He had suspected that it was a fake because it resembled Nicole, and that her grandmother was the model. He is helping because he has feelings for her. They kiss, then Simon sets off the alarms again. After realizing that nothing is missing, the frustrated guards decide the security system has malfunctioned. Because high-ranking politicians in the area have complained about the noisy alarm, they turn it completely off. Simon then steals the statuette, and Nicole hides it in a cleaner's bucket. They escape in the confusion after it is discovered missing.

The next morning, after the news of the robbery has spread, Davis quickly looks for a lead on the missing statuette, desperate to acquire it at any cost. He meets Simon, who says he will give the Venus to him, but that he can never mention the statue to anyone, or see Nicole again. He says Davis will be contacted later about payment. Later, Nicole joins Simon at his table to celebrate the robbery. Simon finally reveals to Nicole that he is not a professional burglar, but an expert investigator hired by major art galleries to strengthen security and uncover forgeries. The Cellini Venus was, in fact, his first heist.

Later, at the steps of a private plane, Simon passes Davis the Venus. When he opens the box, Davis also finds the engagement ring he had given to Nicole.

Simon assures Charles that the fake Venus is safely out of the country. Charles is so relieved that he is only momentarily disappointed when Simon tells him that the purchase price was, and will remain, zero dollars. Simon and Nicole extract a promise from Charles that he will stop selling forged paintings.

Nicole and Simon marry. As they leave the mansion, however, a collector who earlier had admired Charles' new "Van Gogh" arrives and is welcomed by the old forger. Nicole explains him as a cousin, and Simon fondly admires her new flair for lying.



How to Steal a Million was a critical and commercial hit upon its original release.[citation needed] The film currently scores 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with an Average Rating of 6.9/10.[3]

Popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p254
  2. ^ Solomon p 230. See also "Big Rental Pictures of 1966", Variety, 4 January 1967 pg 8.
  3. ^ "How to Steal a Million". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  4. ^ "Va va Voom". Archived from the original on 2015-10-05.
  5. ^ "Review of Loafer". Shankar's Weekly. 25 (2). 1972.
  6. ^ "Loafer - movie review". Planet Bollywood.
  7. ^ Raja Sen (12 December 2014). "Review: Lingaa is buffoonery at its most old-school". Rediff. Retrieved 22 January 2016.

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