Why Settle for Two Cents? Watch HOW TO STEAL A MILLION!

Two Cents is an original column akin to a book club for films. The Cinapse team will program films and contribute our best, most insightful, or most creative thoughts on each film using a maximum of 200 words each. Guest writers and fan comments are encouraged, as are suggestions for future entries to the column. Join us as we share our two cents on films we love, films we are curious about, and films we believe merit some discussion.

The Pick

“Don’t you know that in his lifetime Van Gogh only sold one painting? While I, in loving memory of his tragic genius, have already sold… Two Cents!”

Director William Wyler made his name with sprawling epics (Ben-Hur) and lush romances (Wuthering Heights), gaining a reputation as the Kubrick-before-Kubrick, often demanding his cast do upwards of thirty takes for a single scene. Wyler had already worked with Audrey Hepburn twice (in her star-making hit Roman Holiday, then in ahead-of-its-time drama The Children’s Hour) when he paired her with Peter O’Toole in How To Steal A Million, a romantic caper set in the world of high art and its forgery. Charade was a big hit with our crew and this is perhaps the closest film to replicating that magical formula, placing the irresistible Hepburn against a charming leading man with questionable motives, witty banter, a Parisian backdrop, and of course a mix of romance and comedy with a generous twist of subterfuge. Plus music by “Johnny” Williams!

Shot entirely in Paris (though not a word of French is actually spoken in the film. In most scenes, the only French elements are the backdrop and the mustaches), How to Steal a Million is a frothy romantic comedy caper of a kind that are few and far between.

But do O’Toole and Hepburn continue to shine all these years later, or is this one heist that’s due to be busted?

Did you get a chance to watch along with us this week? Want to recommend a great (or not so great) film for the whole gang to cover? Comment below or post on our Facebook or hit us up on Twitter!

Next Week’s Pick:

Kindergarten Cop 2. New on Netflix. ‘Nuff said.

Would you like to be a guest in next week’s Two Cents column? Simply watch and send your under-200-word review to twocents(at)cinapse.co!

Our Guests

Trey Lawson:

How to Steal a Million is the sort of clever, breezy comedy that I associate almost exclusively with the 1960s. In some ways (not the least of which being the presence of Audrey Hepburn) it evokes the earlier Charade, but with a much simpler premise at its core and far fewer twists and characters to keep up with. The film’s strongest asset is the chemistry between Hepburn and the incredibly charming Peter O’Toole. Their banter and relationship suggests something like a 1930s/40s screwball comedy, although Hepburn is not nearly as aggressive as her earlier counterparts. In fact, more often than not the heist part of this heist film takes a backseat to the love triangle of O’Toole, Hepburn, and businessman Eli Wallach. How to Steal a Million is delightfully diverting, and its cast milks the relatively straightforward premise for all that it’s worth. This isn’t the sort of film that I typically focus on in my own film writing, but it definitely made for a fun change of pace. (@T_Lawson)

The Team


Charade is one of my all-time favorite films and I hoped in viewing How To Steal Million that it would scratch some of that same itch — and boy, did it ever. Audrey Hepburn is, of course, as ravishing as ever, and her character here is just a bit more warm and fun as the anxious daughter of a lovable con artist who has built his considerable reputation and fortune on his own art forgeries.

She makes a great pairing with Peter O’Toole, and their strange relationship as adversaries-turned-lovers just oozes with terrific chemistry and razor-sharp wit. O’Toole’s delivery of silver-tongued humor is second to none, and it’s a shame this was their only film together.

The film’s plot is a bit silly and contrived, but the imaginative details of their caper to steal a “million-dollar” forgery (lest it become exposed) are a pleasure to watch, and sometimes quite clever, even if they strain suspension of disbelief. (@VforVashaw)


This is pure caper-candy, fueled by the enormous delight that is Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole having a charming-off. They both win, as does the audience. Maybe it’s because his performance as Lawrence of Arabia in Lawrence of Arabia looms so large over the landscape, but it always comes as a surprise just how funny Peter O’Toole could be, just how effortlessly and endlessly watchable he is. There’s a great gag at the end of the heist where he reacts with astonishment to his plan working, and I had to rewind the film because I was laughing too hard to hear what anyone said after. How to Steal a Million is lighter than air, but this kind of concoction has often proven to be maddeningly difficult for modern Hollywood to replicate. Attempts at similar set-ups and romances often come across as obnoxious and/or creepy, but everything clicks here, thanks to that cast and William Wyler’s assured hand.

Also, I had no idea that was Eli Wallach. Holy shit, little dude is unrecognizable without his Western-grizzle. (@TheTrueBrendanF)


What is it about films involving art and crime that makes for such an appealing and enjoyable time at the movies? It must have something to do with the fact that most of the people watching such films don’t own pieces of expensive art, nor are most of them criminal masterminds that live out risky capers. Whatever the reason, these kinds of films always provide a unique kind of escapism that few other kinds of movies ever do. How to Steal a Million is a perfect example of this with its art-world setting, elaborate heist and especially in the dreamy Paris setting.

The film is billed as a comedy, but while the jokes aren’t of the upfront kind, there’s still plenty of enjoyment at watching Audrey Hepburn so out of her element as an amateur thief and Peter O’Toole ooze charm as a skilled one. There are so many parts of this movie which strike me as awesomely offbeat. I mean how can you not love a movie where a wealthy socialite’s fortune came from a father who forged famous pieces of art, or a master thief who maintains a residence at the Ritz hotel? Adding to this is the sparkling chemistry between the two leads, which is evident from their first scene. Hepburn and O’Toole’s roles here may not have been their most memorable, but the two create such an undeniable brand of magic that it makes you wish the film simply wouldn’t come to an end. (@frankfilmgeek)

Did you all get a chance to watch along with us? Share your thoughts with us here in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook!

Get it at Amazon!
 How To Steal A Million — [DVD] | [Instant]

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