On the edge of its 40th anniversary comes Michael Mann’s stylish feature film noir debut, Thief.
James Caan astounds as the enigmatic Frank, a Chicago gangster who’s ready to hang up his spurs and electromagnetic drill press, and start life anew. Frank’s safecracking abilities make him a primary asset in a diamond heist worth millions of dollars, but when it comes time to split the rewards, Frank learns just how little honor there is amongst thieves. Tracked with a modernist electronic score by Tangerine Dream, Mann’s portrait of the criminal underworld is one that’s oriented towards the future – themes he would explore throughout his career.
Nominated for the Palme d’Or at 34th Cannes Film Festival, Thief remains acclaimed for its sumptuous nighttime photography by Donald Thorin, and a performance from Caan that is among his favorite roles ever played.
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“Michael Mann’s “Thief” is a film of style, substance, and violently felt emotion, all wrapped up in one of the most intelligent thrillers I’ve seen . . . . At a time when thrillers have been devalued by the routine repetition of the same dumb chases, sex scenes, and gunfights, “Thief” is completely out of the ordinary.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
“As if planned backward from its Pyrrhic-tragic conclusion, Thief is never spoiled by any seeming inevitability, confident as we may be that sweet, good things can’t last. The ‘juice’, to appropriate a Mann-sourced phrase, isn’t in the action, but in the inaction, in the conversations between principals.” – Jaime N. Christley, Slant Magazine
“With Caan in his very best form at its center, and with so many brilliant set pieces paced out between the claustrophobic face-to-face encounters of Frank and the police, Frank and Leo, and Frank and others who seem determined to sully the purity of his vision by insisting on a piece of the action, Thief is a singular achievement by a director who’s hitting on his best ideas while in transition—from television to cinema, and from being under the influence of his forebears to bringing his own creative influence to bear on his times.” – Nick James, Criterion