Thief (1981)

R  |   |  Action, Crime, Drama  |  27 March 1981 (USA)
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Becoming closer to his dream of leading a normal life, a professional safecracker agrees to do a job for the mafia, who have other plans for him.



(novel), (screen story), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tom Signorelli ...
Nick Nickeas ...
W.R. Brown ...
Mitch (as W.R. [Bill] Brown)
Norm Tobin ...
John Santucci ...
Gavin MacFadyen ...
Chuck Adamson ...
Sam Cirone ...
Spero Anast ...


Frank is an expert professional safecracker, specializing in high-profile diamond jobs. After having spent many years in prison, he has a very concrete picture of what he wants out of life--including a nice home, a wife, and kids. As soon as he is able to assemble the pieces of this collage, by means of his chosen profession, he intends to retire and become a model citizen. In an effort to accelerate this process, he signs on to take down a huge score for a big-time gangster. Unfortunately, Frank's obsession for his version of the American Dream allows him to overlook his natural wariness and mistrust, when making the deal for his final job. He is thus ensnared and robbed of his freedom, his independence, and, ultimately, his dream. Written by Tad Dibbern <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

thief | prison | heist | money | criminal | See All (209) »


Tonight, his take home pay is $410, free.


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

27 March 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Einzelgänger  »

Box Office


$4,300,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The scene where Barry is lying dead next to Frank, in the original theatrical release, Leo said to Frank, "People will be eating them for lunch tomorrow in their McDonald's hamburgers and not know it." When the film came out on VHS, "McDonald's" had been removed and only "... tomorrow in their hamburgers and not know it" can be heard. On DVD, "Whimpy burgers" is now said by Leo. See more »


The door Frank closes when he first backs out of Attaglia's office is closed, but in the next scene it is slightly open and Frank slams it shut on his way out. See more »


Frank: I got some A-B-C type information for you, lady. I was state-raised, and this is a dead place. A child in eight-by-four green walls, after awhile you tell the walls 'my life is yours.' What, didja grow up in the suburbs?
Mrs. Knowles: Yes.
Frank: Right! Right!
See more »


Referenced in True Detective: Black Maps and Motel Rooms (2015) See more »

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User Reviews

A thrilling, underrated gem ahead of its time
23 October 2010 | by (toronto) – See all my reviews

I've always been impressed by Micheal Mann's films. Starting with The Insider, I was intrigued by his camera-work and the use of music to compliment a scene.

With Thief, his directorial debut, he shows what movie fans will be in store for over the 30 years. Of course some of the techniques to steal are dated, but I loved the glossy, yet gritty atmosphere of the film. Tuesday Weld, was also quite good as Caan's love interest. It has an amazing ending as well.

The film is Waaaaaaay ahead of its time. And I was genuinely impressed with James Caans performance. This film is an underrated gem and should be viewed by Mann fans who liked Heat and Collateral.


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