Michael MannUSA124 minutes1981ColourEnglish
As fully formed a debut as any in film history, Thief instantly established writer-director Michael Mann's cinematic hallmarks: meticulous attention to detail, stylishly rendered visual (and sonic) environments, expert action sequences, and hard-boiled men displaying the utmost grace under pressure. Looking to make one last big score and then get out of the game, expert safecracker Frank (James Caan) agrees to work for an avuncular mobster (Robert Prosky) offering a big payday for a high-profile job. Things, predictably, don't go as planned, and the lone wolf soon finds himself a hunted animal. All coiled rage and veiled vulnerability, Caan gives one of his defining screen performances as Frank, while Tuesday Weld is woundingly affecting as the woman he's willing to give it all up for. "One of the most intelligent thrillers I've seen" (Roger Ebert).