DVD Verdict
Home About Deals Blu-ray DVD Reviews Upcoming DVD Releases Contest Podcasts Judges Jury Room Contact  

Case Number 06144

Buy How To Steal A Million at Amazon

How To Steal A Million

Fox // 1966 // 123 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Jesse Ataide (Retired) // February 8th, 2005

• View Judge Ataide's Dossier
• E-mail Judge Ataide
• Printer Friendly Review

Every purchase you make through these Amazon links supports DVD Verdict's reviewing efforts. Thank you!


All Rise...

Judge Jesse Ataide assures you this has nothing to do with squirreling away incremental pennies from the transactions of large corporations.

The Charge

The finer things in life are free (and sometimes fake)!

Opening Statement

Thirteen years after he unveiled Audrey Hepburn to the world in the charming romance Roman Holiday, director William Wyler teamed up with the international icon to make another light romantic comedy. It was their third collaboration together (following the unsuccessful drama The Children's Hour in 1961), but sadly proved to be their last.

Facts of the Case

Based on the short story "Venus Rising" by George Bradshaw, How to Steal a Million features a rather contrived plot about a wealthy art forger (Academy Award winner Hugh Griffith, Ben Hur) and his beautiful daughter (Hepburn) who are about to be exposed as frauds after they allow one of their fake statues to be displayed in a major art exhibition. In a desperate attempt to save face, Hepburn solicits help from a dashing society burglar (Peter O'Toole, Lawrence of Arabia) to steal the statue before tests can be made to reveal its true origin. The "burglar" isn't exactly what he appears to be, however, and as they plot their haphazard heist, the two inevitably begin to fall in love.

The Evidence

How to Steal a Million is generally regarding as one of Audrey Hepburn's lesser films, and it's hard to refute such a statement. The film, which boasts authentic Parisian location work and numerous Givenchy gowns, has all the elements of a successful romantic caper in the vein of Roman Holiday, but never quite comes together in a totally satisfactory manner. While the plot is obviously not meant to be taken seriously, the heist itself is laughably absurd, displaying none of the tension or skill that marks the work of Alfred Hitchcock (director of the similarly-themed To Catch a Thief), whose image is playfully referenced early in the film.

Much could be forgiven, however, if Hepburn and O'Toole were able to sell us on the romantic angle of the film. But despite Hepburn's winning smile and O'Toole trademark blue eyes, the two stars never generate much chemistry as a couple (the same can be said regarding a subplot involving Hepburn and a smitten American art collector played by Eli Wallach). This could be attributed to the essential miscasting of O'Toole in the central role—he not only appears uncomfortable playing a suave ladies man, but is utterly unconvincing as a potential thief.

Most will be drawn to the film on the strength of Audrey Hepburn's reputation, and she doesn't disappoint. She's as lovely as ever—elegantly swathed in Givenchy and flitting around Paris, her large brown eyes apparently finding something appealing in O'Toole's character that escapes the rest of us. As an Audrey Hepburn vehicle, How to Steal a Million is mildly successful, and fans will eagerly consume this insubstantial trifle.

How to Steal a Million, one of the latest Fox Studio Classic releases, is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and is adequately restored (there is one grainy sequence early in the film that is particularly jarring, however). Both Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo and mono audio tracks in English are provided, as are mono tracks in Spanish and French. English and Spanish subtitles are also included.

A commentary by Eli Wallach and Catherine Wyler (the director's daughter) is the major extra provided on this disc. It is mildly interesting, though long pauses abound (the two speakers were obviously recorded at different times). Wallach's comments are generally fond reminisces of Hepburn and his involvement in the film; Wyler, who directed a documentary about her famous father, provides more solid information about the creation of the film and those connected with it. The A&E documentary "Audrey Hepburn: The Fairest Lady" is a good introduction to the life and career of the beloved actress, but sadly doesn't reveal much new information for fans (though it's always a pleasure to watch film clips of somebody so lovely). Four unrestored teaser and theatrical trailers round out the film's extras.

Closing Statement

Though the film itself is only of limited interest, How to Steal a Million will undoubtedly finds its way into the collections of countless Audrey Hepburn devotees, and for good reason: the film's main pleasure is to watch the inimitable actress and icon in action.

The Verdict

Not guilty, but just barely: This judge can't resist the charms of Hepburn any more than any other smitten fan.

Give us your feedback!

Did we give How To Steal A Million a fair trial? yes / no

Share This Review

Follow DVD Verdict

DVD Reviews Quick Index

• DVD Releases
• Recent DVD Reviews
• Search for a DVD review...

Scales of Justice

Video: 85
Audio: 85
Extras: 80
Acting: 85
Story: 60
Judgment: 75

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 2.35:1 Anamorphic
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (English)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (French)
• Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono (Spanish)
• English
• Spanish
Running Time: 123 Minutes
Release Year: 1966
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Classic
• Comedy
• Romance
• Romantic Comedies

Distinguishing Marks

• Audio Commentary with Eli Wallach and Catherine Wyler
• A&E Biography: "Audrey Hepburn: The Fairest Lady"
• Theatrical Trailer
• Teaser Trailer


• IMDb

DVD | Blu-ray | Upcoming DVD Releases | About | Staff | Jobs | Contact | Subscribe | Find us on Google+ | Privacy Policy

Review content copyright © 2005 Jesse Ataide; Site design and review layout copyright © 2016 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.