How to Steal a Million (1966): William Wyler’s Heist Comedy, Starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole

William Wyler directed How to Steal a Million, one of his last (and least) features, a heist comedy starring Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole.

The picture is set and was filmed in France, though the characters speak  in English.

Art collector Charles Bonnet forges and sells famous artists’ paintings, making his disapproving daughter Nicole fearful that he will be caught.

Late one night at the Bonnet mansion, Nicole encounters a burglar, Simon Dermott, holding her father’s forged “Van Gogh.” She threatens him with an antique gun that accidentally fires, wounding Simon’s arm.  To avoid investigation, Nicole does not contact the police, instead taking Simon to his posh hotel.

Charles has loaned his renowned “Cellini” Venus statuette to the Kléber-Lafayette Museum in Paris for an exhibition. Sculpted by his father, Charles has never sold the Venus to avoid scientific testing that would reveal that the artwork is fake.

Simon assures Charles that the fake Venus will be safely out of the country. However, because the statuette was not authenticated, it is not covered by insurance, and Charles agrees to give up forgery.

As Nicole and Simon prepare to elope, a collector arrives at the Bonnet residence, introduced by Nicole as a “cousin,” showing her new-found flair for lying.

Despite star power an on location shootin, the movie was not popular at the box-office.

Cast
Audrey Hepburn as Nicole Bonnet
Peter O’Toole as Simon Dermott
Hugh Griffith as Charles Bonnet
Eli Wallach as Davis Leland
Charles Boyer as DeSolnay
Fernand Gravey as Grammont
Marcel Dalio as Paravideo
Jacques Marin as Head of Security
Roger Tréville as Auctioneer
Edward Malin as Insurance Clerk

Credits

Directed by William Wyler
Produced by Wyler and Fred Kohlmar
Screenplay by Harry Kurnitz, based on Venus Rising story in “Practise to Deceive” by George Bradshaw
Music by John Williams
Cinematography Charles Lang
Edited by Robert Swink
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release date July 13, 1966
Running time 123 minutes

 

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