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How to Steal a Million (1966)

Audrey Hepburn in Paris is a film lover’s dream. The city she conquered in Funny Face, Love in the Afternoon (both 1957), and Charade (1963) and that transformed her, at least off-screen, in Sabrina (1954) is the setting of this delightfully improbable caper film that teams her for the only time with Peter O’Toole. In a new, mod wardrobe from her signature designer, Hubert de Givenchy, she brings a special sparkle to the City of Light.

Hepburn is the daughter of an art forger (Hugh Griffith). Her efforts to keep him on the straight and narrow are complicated when he donates a forged statuette to an exhibition whose insurers require it to be verified. To steal the million-dollar fake back she enlists the help of an art thief (O’Toole), whose full story—adding a dash of narrative intrigue—is revealed to the audience before Hepburn gets wise. If you don’t expect them to fall in love, you’ve never seen a movie.

William Wyler, the director who made Hepburn a star with Roman Holiday (1953), needed a break after the heavy dramatics of his previous films, The Children’s Hour (1961) and The Collector (1965), so he turned to this adaptation of George Bradshaw’s story “Venus Rising.” He knew it was all a confection, so to make it work he not only insisted on shooting in Paris but on getting the best stars he could find. Hepburn and O’Toole make the perfect pair for a romantic thriller. How to Steal a Million may have seemed inconsequential in 1966, the era of the Vietnam War and political unrest, but later audiences have fallen in love with the film.

d. William Wyler, 124 minutes, DCP

Courtesy of Walt Disney Studios