By Richard Winters
My Rating: 8 out of 10
4-Word Review: They steal a statue.
Bonnet (Hugh Griffith) is a successful art forger who lends his Cellini Venus statue to a Paris Museum. He also has it insured, but doesn’t realize that for the coverage to take effect it would have to go through a test by the insurance company to make sure it is authentic, which sends him into a panic. His daughter Nicole (Audrey Hepburn) decides to help him by enlisting the help of Simon (Peter O’Toole) who she thinks is a professional burglar. Simon though is actually an investigator who is on to Bonnet’s racket, but decides to play along and steal the statue back despite the place being under tight security simply because he has fallen for Nicole and she for him.
Directed by William Wyler this film is engaging from beginning to end and perfectly blends the comedy with the caper. The story itself has limited action and a moderately slow pace, but I was never bored and enjoyed the plush sets and wide array of supporting characters making this a perfect tonic for those looking for light forget-your-troubles entertainment.
O’Toole’s detached manner works well with the character who allows Nicole to take charge or at least think she is while still secretly holding all the cards. The chemistry between the two is good, but I felt the romantic angle got played out too quickly. Sometimes it is more interesting not knowing if they are going to fall in love or not until the end and having them get all romantic with each other while trapped in a cramped janitor’s closet at the museum and during the tension of the robbery seemed a bit of a stretch.
Hepburn is elegant as ever and as usual it is her chic outfits that become almost as fun as her performance and the one that she wears to a restaurant when she meets Simon to set-up their plan has to be seen to be believed. The funniest one though is when she dresses in a very frumpy un-Hepburn-like dress and hat and then gets down on her hands and knees to pretend to be a cleaning lady.
Griffith hams it up marvelously as the crazy father and makes the most of every scene he is in. His cross-eyed stare makes him look almost like the twin brother of character actor Jack Elam.
Eli Wallach is underused in a supporting role that really doesn’t offer much and there is never any explanation of why he becomes so infatuated with the statue like he does. However, the way he describes his love for the statue in an aroused type of way is funny.
The robbery itself features some interestingly intricate moments. The best is when the couple is locked in a closet and Simon uses a magnet to take the key, which is hanging on the other side of the wall off of its hook and along the wall and into the lock, which I found to be totally cool.
My Rating: 8 out of 10
Released: July 13, 1966
Runtime: 2Hours 3Minutes
Director: William Wyler
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video