Film Festival: Caper Films
AUDREY HEPBURN earned a special place in our hearts in her star-making performance in 1953’s “Roman Holiday.” What was it about her? Her dark hair, pretty eyes, slim figure and her sense of style all contributed to her unique look, helped along by her favorite designer, Hubert Givenchy. In this caper film, Givenchy’s designs are an important part of the fun.
“How to Steal a Million (1966)” takes place in Paris in the swingin’ ’60s. Paris was a confection of a city then, with its Belle Epoque mansions, inspiring art, the Ritz Bar, Maxim’s restaurant, and Givenchy’s trend-setting fashions. Nicole Bonet (Audrey Hepburn) lives the life of an heiress with her father in the family mansion. Papa helps maintain their lifestyle by creating masterful art forgeries. As the story begins, he has just sold a Cezanne “from his collection” for $5 million.
” I doubt very much if Van Gogh himself would have gone to these pains with his work. — He didn’t have to; he WAS Van Gogh. — But my darling, you know that in his whole lifetime he only sold one painting; whereas I, in loving memory of his great tragic genius, have already sold two!”–Papa and Nicole
In his latest publicity stunt, Papa lends his Cellini Venus to a great Paris museum for public display (Carnavalet Museum.) At the opening reception for the exhibit, Leland Davis (Eli Wallach) falls passionately in love with the Cellini Venus, which is insured for $1 million. Meanwhile, Nicole stays home from the reception and decides to read a Hitchcock novel before going to bed. She gets scared to death when she hears a noise in the empty house. Creeping downstairs, Nicole discovers an intruder, debonair in a tuxedo, stealing flecks of paint off the “Van Gogh” hanging in the entrance hall. This tall, good-looking ruffian with intense blue eyes is Simon Dermott (Peter O’Toole).
Nicole tries to shoot Simon. The two of them end up on a wild ride in a sports car to the Ritz, their first encounter culminating in a soulful kiss. Nicole likes Simon very much despite the fact that they met during an apparent burglary. Nicole doesn’t know that Simon is an employee of De Solnay (Charles Boyer), a rich man interested in acquiring some of the Bonet art works. Nicole convinces Simon to help her steal the Cellini Venus from the museum. She won’t tell Simon her reasons for committing this crime, but he has his own secret reasons for agreeing to help her.
Simon and Nicole case the museum to plan the theft. The Venus is protected with light beams from the ceiling circling the work, with alarm controls in the guards’ lounge. The museum closes to visitors at 5:30 pm, and the guards make rounds once each hour all night. The maids come in to clean from midnight to 4 am. Simon’s plan needs to work around all these schedules and alarms with only himself and Nicole to carry it out.
” Now look, if you were a guard and had to sit night after night guarding a bunch of junk you couldn’t afford and didn’t particularly like, how would you feel? —Irritable. … –It’s psychological warfare!” –Nicole and Simon
And now for the fashion report: Givenchy’s outfits for Nicole are a visual feast of mid-1960s style. In her first appearance, she is dressed completely in white, complemented by her bright red sports car. Her white “bug-eye” sunglasses complete the ensemble. The fashion show continues with
- a white suit with a pleated skirt and helmet hat
- a light brown tweed suit with no-lapel jacket and dirndl skirt, accessorized with white kid
- a lime green suit, the jacket button-less with a mandarin collar, worn with diamond dangling earrings
- a butter-yellow belted jacket suit, with a silk cravat, a dirndl skirt, and white diamond-patterned hose
- a black satin dress with lace overlay, black peau de soie shoes, lace eye veil, glittery eye shadow, and the palest pink lipstick
- a navy blue double-breasted coat with white accessories, including very large square sunglasses
- a wheat cowl-neck dress
- a navy wrap-jacket suit with a large white collar and belt
- a window-pane plaid coat.
Audrey is irresistible in all this; Peter O’Toole does not have a chance!
Will Nicole be swayed by Leland Davis’s proposal, including a large engagement ring? Will Nicole’s father end up in jail? How long can Nicole and Simon spend in a tiny closet together without getting in trouble? Can Simon work around the alarm system? Who will end up with the Venus? “How to Steal a Million” is your how-to guide with all the answers.
- “How to Steal a Million” (1966) from IMDB
- How to Steal a Million from Movie Tourist
- Audrey Hepburn’s official website
- Peter O’Toole from Bio.com
- Unmissable Museums from TimeOut Paris
- The fashion house of Givenchy
- Hubert de Givenchy from Vogue
- Benvenuto Cellini from Artcyclopedia
- Photo gate from Vernier Software
Let’s talk story
I find myself wishing these styles would come back. Isn’t it great that modern movie makers like the 1960s too? We don’t all look like Audrey, but a little matching shoes, dress, hat can’t be bad! And I love a romance that happens because the couple works on a hard project together (even if it is illegal)!
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