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Michael Mann's "Thief"
March 23, 2012 1:27 PM   Subscribe

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. - Roger Ebert

James Caan rightly considers the diner scene his greatest performance.
posted by Trurl (52 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ahh yeah I saw this in college, but I forgot how terrific it is.
posted by Mister_A at 1:29 PM on March 23, 2012


Tangerine Dream did the soundtrack, which is good if you like that TD thing.
posted by rhizome at 1:29 PM on March 23, 2012


In regards to Tangerine Dream, I thought that the opening bit had aged pretty badly, and how much better it would have sounded if they had used real strings.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:34 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


God, but this is great film. I watched Drive a few weeks back, and having told my dad about how good it was, he kind of scoffed and said "yeah, but have you seen Thief?" Despite loving plenty of Mann's other films, I hadn't. I have now. There's a great triple bill to be had if you fancy this, To Live And Die In LA and Drive. Throw in Walter Hill's The Driver and you have a brilliant quartet of LA underbelly noir.
posted by Len at 1:37 PM on March 23, 2012 [13 favorites]


I discovered the Chicago's Green Mill Lounge thanks to Thief, and was relieved to find out that they didn't really blow it up. I was giddy as hell to visit "the Thief bar" when I was finally old enough. That movie was a fave of mine when it came out while I was in high school. It made me start buying Tangerine Dream albums and renting as many James Caan movies as I could find.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 1:42 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first time I saw this, I do not think that I used a contraction in my speech for about two weeks.
posted by Uncle Ira at 1:45 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I love this film SO MUCH. It is an underappreciated gem.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:45 PM on March 23, 2012


There's a great triple bill to be had if you fancy this, To Live And Die In LA and Drive. Throw in Walter Hill's The Driver and you have a brilliant quartet of LA underbelly noir.

Thank you, sir. I was seriously thinking of posting an ask mefi: I just watched To Live And Die In LA and Drive and they were better than anything I've seen in years. What do I need to see now?
posted by saul wright at 1:53 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


My first impression was that geez, Vincent Gallo cribbed heavily from this scene/film when constructing the Billy Brown character (Buffalo 66). So, Gallo seems a bit less original now, yet Billy still has a place in my (cold?) heart..
posted by obscurator at 1:57 PM on March 23, 2012


Tuesday Weld zomg!
posted by basicchannel at 1:59 PM on March 23, 2012


In regards to Tangerine Dream, I thought that the opening bit had aged pretty badly, and how much better it would have sounded if they had used real strings.

I hope you've been keeping your pistol clean, dawn is fast approaching.
posted by Doleful Creature at 2:10 PM on March 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I keep telling people that Drive is almost a remake of Thief--very similar cinematography, laconic professional criminal with a particular skill set, flawed sidekick, beautiful love interest who is open-hearted despite abuse, a child at issue, a heist with consequences, some brutal violence, and, well, I don't want to give away the rest. The performances are very similar to me. I keep telling people this, but why does no one want to listen to a film pedant?

When I was in the Peace Corps in Guatemala, there was a video store in the nearest largeish town to my pueblito. They had a few English-speaking titles there, and Thief was one of the only ones that did not feature Dolph Lundgren, Wesley Snipes, Rutger Hauer, or Tom Berenger (I'm not talking about the good movies those guys made). I rented it and watched it over and over on my laptop, including the director's commentary--highly recommended. A deeply thought-out movie, and very affecting.
posted by oneironaut at 2:13 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, Drive is awesome too. Actually I think it's impossible to overstate how great a movie drive is. And the comparisons to thief are apt (even the soundtrack is kind of similar!).
posted by Doleful Creature at 2:21 PM on March 23, 2012


It sounds like a movie I would very much like, but somehow I had never heard of it before. Good things sometimes come from MetaFilter...
posted by Forktine at 2:22 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Garrett?
posted by pyrex at 2:28 PM on March 23, 2012


So, it doesn't seem that there's anything beyond the first 9:43 on YouTube, it's not on NetFlix, and there's aren't any torrents. Any ideas for seeing the whole film other than calling around to video stores that are still in business?
posted by Burhanistan at 2:43 PM on March 23, 2012


Well, there are some copies on Amazon for USD 11.99.

*checks invite-only private torrent tracker*

There is one torrent, but it only has one seeder...so yeah not a way popular film with the kiddiez.
posted by Doleful Creature at 2:49 PM on March 23, 2012


Burhanistan: So, it doesn't seem that there's anything beyond the first 9:43 on YouTube, it's not on NetFlix, and there's aren't any torrents. Any ideas for seeing the whole film other than calling around to video stores that are still in business?

Well I got it for a fiver ie $8 on Amazon, which is a bargain unless you want to watch it right now this minute...
posted by Len at 2:50 PM on March 23, 2012


Another worthy movie starring James Caan, from even further back, is The Gambler.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:52 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, right. Purchasing. Well, that would be novel.
posted by Burhanistan at 2:52 PM on March 23, 2012


There is one torrent, but it only has one seeder...so yeah not a way popular film with the kiddiez.


You need to get with a better class of invite-only pirates. 11 seeders on mine. ;)

For the record, my favorite Caan performance is not Thief but The Gambler; second would be Way of the Gun.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:56 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


For the record, my favorite Caan performance is not Thief but The Gambler; second would be Way of the Gun.

You are learned in the ways of Caan.
posted by Trurl at 3:02 PM on March 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have found what appear to be working rapidshare links.

If anyone was interested.

posted by Trurl at 3:09 PM on March 23, 2012


Thief is great, and if you're familiar obsessed with Mann's other crime films, you can see the earliest (?) versions of the ideas / idioms that crop up in Heat and Miami Vice ("work cars", "time is luck", brass checks etc.)
posted by urschrei at 3:17 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It may just be me, but I'm seeing something of a resemblance here. Not that this is a bad thing. Drive is easily Michael Mann's best film in a decade or more.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:35 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It may just be me, but I'm seeing something of a resemblance here.

I accepted the neon graffiti font of the Drive title as due homage.
posted by Trurl at 3:41 PM on March 23, 2012


The whole thing is on YouTube. Here's part one and it looks like the poster put all of the pieces up.
posted by codswallop at 3:47 PM on March 23, 2012


> The whole thing is on YouTube. Here's part one and it looks like the poster put all of the pieces up.

That's the same link in the OP, and there are no additional parts added as of yet.
posted by Burhanistan at 3:54 PM on March 23, 2012


The thing I've always liked about Mann films is that the characters he staffs them with feel like people who have been doing their particular job (on either side of the law) day in and out for 20 years. Granted, he tends to focus on the police and thieves specifically. but then you watch a film like The Insider and it's there as well, in a movie without a single action sequence or a cops & robbers storyline. I was listening to an interview with Lowell Bergman, and was appreciating how well I felt like Al Pacino and Michael Mann captured him in that role.
posted by ninjew at 3:56 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


there are no additional parts added as of yet

(I made the same assumption about there being other parts. Sorry about that.)
posted by Trurl at 4:00 PM on March 23, 2012


I've seen it a few times but this is movie that I'd love to see in a theater with a good sound system.
posted by octothorpe at 4:06 PM on March 23, 2012


I watched it in its entirety on youtube not more than two months ago. It was mentioned in an ask, I think.
posted by maxwelton at 4:45 PM on March 23, 2012


There's a 720p HD (not from DVD) up on usenet...
posted by gen at 4:47 PM on March 23, 2012


Kind of a funny turn the thread's taken, given the subject. Gave me a chuckle, anyway.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:52 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Part 2

Part 3


Part 4

Part 5

And so on.
posted by codswallop at 4:59 PM on March 23, 2012


Caan has great manna with Mafiosi because this performance...
posted by shnarg at 5:00 PM on March 23, 2012


>It may just be me, but I'm seeing something of a resemblance here.

I accepted the neon graffiti font of the Drive title as due homage.


The opening reminded me of Bladerunner and the Bradbury Building.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:08 PM on March 23, 2012


This is a fantastic film and one of Mann's finest achievements. The screen crackles with intensity with this one. Rumor has it that The Criterion Collection is prepping this for release.

Absolutely seconding nods to THE DRIVER and DRIVE. I haven't yet seen TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA, but I'll put in my queue....
posted by theartandsound at 5:14 PM on March 23, 2012


I haven't yet seen TO LIVE AND DIE IN LA, but I'll put in my queue....

(see related posts)
posted by Trurl at 5:17 PM on March 23, 2012


Online rental available here.

via the very awesome http://www.canistream.it/
posted by billyfleetwood at 5:19 PM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The other parts are there (at least for now) if you search for them specifically. Part 2
posted by macmac at 5:19 PM on March 23, 2012


It may just be me, but I'm seeing something of a resemblance here. Not that this is a bad thing. Drive is easily Michael Mann's best film in a decade or more.

Drive is not a Mann film, and those fonts were popular in the late '70s through the mid '80s. Obviously there is a fair amount of similarity between the films, but if you watch Refn earlier films then you can see how he's been working with his own themes for a number of years, and that it's not a remake of Thief.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:23 PM on March 23, 2012


I just looked it up on Netflix. Thief is available on dvd, and it says "streaming soon."
posted by nushustu at 5:28 PM on March 23, 2012


basicchannel: Tuesday Weld zomg!

I'd completely forgotten about this until now, but a friend of mine from university, who is now a screenwriter, was obsessed with Tuesday Weld's 60s film roles and set out, in the mid-1990s, to find her and see what she was up to/where she was at, her having been absent from films for a good while (though if memory serves she was actually in Falling Down, which was made in 1993). After an almost endless series of phone calls to various LA agents, talent agencies, and the like, this culminated in a trip to New York, and a long, laborious attempt to visit every diner in the East Village, and on the Lower East Side, in hopes of tracking her down. He wrote about it for the student paper when I was writing for them, and I'd like to say that he succeeded, but I'm not sure if that's fact or my sketchy memory playing tricks on me.
posted by Len at 5:50 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it was only based on the game from Looking Glass Studios, the Ebert-Video Gamer war wouldn't be happening today.
posted by Apocryphon at 6:40 PM on March 23, 2012


I just looked it up on Netflix. Thief is available on dvd, and it says "streaming soon."

Amusingly, it appears to be streaming on Comcast Ondemand.

Yes, I've been meaning to cancel this shitty cable but it's amazing how apathy can keep monthly bills being drawn from your bank account
posted by Existential Dread at 8:04 PM on March 23, 2012


Thief is supposedly based on a book by the "mythical" Frank Hoheimer who was once considered a prime suspect in the murder of Valerie Percy, a huge case in the Chicago area back in the mid '60s.

I read the book back in the early eighties when the movie first came out. The word is that Hoheimer was a technical advisor on the film under an assumed name since he was the subject of a number of federal investigations at the time.

Also, John Santucci who played Urizzi, the cop relentlessly pursuing Frank (Caan), was a recently paroled thief who also gave technical advice and supplied some of the tools used on the film.

Balancing out this thief playing a cop was Dennis Farina a Chicago cop who in his first movie role, played Carl, one of the thieves.
posted by mygoditsbob at 5:46 AM on March 24, 2012


Saw this recently on Netflix. Great movie and showcases Mann's talent for this type of genre piece. And yeah, could not agree more with the comparison to Drive.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:04 AM on March 24, 2012


Also showcases Mann's talent for staging diner scenes.
posted by slimepuppy at 7:06 AM on March 24, 2012


Check out Mann's new series Luck. I just heard it's been cancelled.
posted by what's her name at 8:21 AM on March 24, 2012


those fonts were popular in the late '70s through the mid '80s.

And still are... The Drive font is the same font that California currently uses for their license plates.
posted by quartzcity at 8:35 PM on March 25, 2012


And I've said as much before, homage or not that specific font and color has an iconic relationship with LA.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:55 PM on March 25, 2012


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