|How to Steal a Million|
|Directed by||William Wyler|
|Produced by||William Wyler|
|Screenplay by||Harry Kurnitz|
|Based on||Venus Rising|
1962 story in Practise to Deceive
by George Bradshaw
|Music by||John Williams|
|Edited by||Robert Swink|
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Box office||$4.4 million (rentals)|
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.
Prominent art collector Charles Bonnet, forges and sells famous artists' paintings. His disapproving daughter, Nicole, constantly fears his being 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, slightly wounding Simon's arm. Wanting to avoid an investigation around her father's fake masterpieces, Nicole does not contact the police, and instead takes the charming Simon to his posh hotel, driving him in his expensive sports car.
Charles has loaned his renowned "Cellini" Venus statuette to the Kléber-Lafayette Museum in Paris for an important exhibition. Sculpted by his father, Charles has never sold the Venus to avoid scientific testing that would reveal the "million dollar" artwork is fake. Charles signs the museum's standard insurance policy unaware it also provides his consent to a forensic examination. If proven a forgery, the entire Bonnet collection will become suspect; withdrawing the Venus from the exhibition would raise suspicions. Nicole, desperate to protect her father, seeks out Simon to steal it before the examination. Unknown to Nicole, Simon is an expert consultant and investigator hired by major art galleries to enhance security and detect forgeries. He was investigating Charles Bonnet's art collection, which is why Nicole encountered him in the Bonnet mansion. He agrees to help Nicole, though initially believes it is impossible to steal the Venus.
Meanwhile, American tycoon Davis Leland, an avid art collector, becomes obsessed with owning the Venus. He meets Nicole solely to purchase the statue. In a later ploy to acquire the Venus, Leland unexpectedly proposes marriage as Nicole is rushing off to the museum for the "heist". Nicole and Simon hide in a utility closet until closing time. After observing the guards routine, Simon repeatedly sets off the security alarm until the "faulty" system is finally disabled.
Simon notices Nicole's resemblance to the Venus, and she admits her grandfather sculpted the statuette and her grandmother was the model. Simon steals the Venus, and Nicole, disguised as a cleaning woman, hides it in a bucket. When the Venus is discovered missing, they escape in the ensuring chaos.
Following the robbery, Leland seeks to acquire the Venus by any means. Simon connives to "sell" it to him on condition that it never be displayed to anyone and he has no further contact with the Bonnet family; Leland will supposedly be contacted about payment. Nicole meets Simon to celebrate their successful heist. Simon then reveals his true identity and says the Cellini Venus was his first "job".
Simon assures Charles that the fake Venus will be safely out of the country. Charles is so relieved that he is only momentarily disappointed when Simon says the purchase price was zero dollars. Because the statuette was never authenticated, it is not covered by insurance. Charles agrees to give up forgery.
As Nicole and Simon prepare to elope, a collector who earlier had admired Charles' new "Van Gogh", arrives at the Bonnet residence and is warmly welcomed by the wily forger. Nicole says the man is a "cousin". Simon admires her new-found flair for lying.
How to Steal a Million was well received upon its original release. The film currently scores 100% on Rotten Tomatoes with an Average Rating of 6.9/10.
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.