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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.

How to Steal a Million
Directed byWilliam Wyler
Produced byWilliam Wyler
Fred Kohlmar
Screenplay byHarry Kurnitz
Based onVenus Rising
1962 story in Practise to Deceive
by George Bradshaw
StarringAudrey Hepburn
Peter O'Toole
Eli Wallach
Hugh Griffith
Charles Boyer
Music byJohn Williams
CinematographyCharles Lang
Edited byRobert Swink
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • July 13, 1966 (1966-07-13)
Running time
123 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$4.4 million (rentals)[2]



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 had noticed that the statue resembles Nicole (her grandmother was the model), and now explains that he has deduced why she wants it stolen. She admits the truth and asks why he is helping; he answers by kissing her. Then he sets off the alarms again. Since high-ranking politicians living nearby are complaining about the noisy alarm, the frustrated guards 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 can have the Venus, but that he must 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 Bonnet 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 well received upon its original release.[citation needed] The film currently scores 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with an Average Rating of 6.9/10.[3]

Box OfficeEdit

According to Fox records, the film needed to earn $12,000,000 in rentals to break even and made $10,450,000, meaning it made a loss.[4]

Popular cultureEdit

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 325.
  5. ^ "Va va Voom". Archived from the original on 2015-10-05.
  6. ^ "Review of Loafer". Shankar's Weekly. 25 (2). 1972.
  7. ^ "Loafer - movie review". Planet Bollywood.
  8. ^ Raja Sen (12 December 2014). "Review: Lingaa is buffoonery at its most old-school". Rediff. Retrieved 22 January 2016.

External linksEdit