Cult-Trash-Badass-Cinema -and more…

THIEF ( 1981)


Directed by Michael Mann

Fresh from prison, jewel thief and safecracker Frank(James Caan) is selling cars at day and goes out  cracking safes at night, aided by his friend Barry (James Belushi in his first feature film role).He spent most of his life in prison, where he was teached and mentored by Okla(Willie Nelson).

He dreams of a family and a life without crime.

But that requires a  certain pension fund, he yet has to raise. Tuesday Weld is  the target of his affection, working as a waitress in a diner. In a long scene, he gradually persuades her to be with him.

When he makes a Faustian bargain with a mobster (Robert Prosky) in order to get out of this way of life, he realises too late, that this guy won`t hold on to his part of the bargain.

This film I discovered just a few months back, what a shame. Michael Mann`s feature film debut is a must-see, a grade A crime thriller that probably went under the radar of many people.  I`m truly puzzled to have discovered it  just this spring.

Made in 1981, it still has the touch of the 70`s crime movies.

It is one of those films , where great acting, a phenomenal score by Tangerine Dream and great writing come together like a match made in heaven. Until the end, you feel and fear for the main character. The blue neon opening credits already got me excited at the very beginning, and as Caan was working with his heavy-duty machinery in order to crack a safe, I was sold. A carefully made film, the tools are authentic, and Mann had real safecrackers to advise him, up to the correct language and heist technology. There is also a good amount of shooting and fighting going on, this ain`t no kids movie. When Frank refuses to do more heists, the crime boss proves to be unforgiving, and  Frank must fear not only for himself, but his friends, too.

This is maybe my single favourite film by Michael Mann, since i am not a big fan of  HEAT , ALI or  INSIDER. I liked  MANHUNTER, though.

But this , his feature debut, I think is his best.

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