AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Seven Thieves
Director: Henry Hathaway (Dir)
Release Date:   Jan 1960
Production Date:   late Jul--late Oct 1959
Duration (in mins):   100 or 102
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Cast:   Edward G. Robinson (Professor Theo Wilkins)  
    Rod Steiger (Paul Mason)  
    Joan Collins (Melanie)  
    Eli Wallach (Pancho)  
    Alexander Scourby (Raymond Le May)  
    Michael Dante (Louis)  
    Berry Kroeger (Hugo Baumer)  
    Sebastian Cabot (Director of Monte Carlo casino)  
    Marcel Hillaire (Duc di Salins)  
    John Berardino (Chief of detectives)  
    Alphonse Martell (Governor)  
    Jonathan Kidd (Seymour)  
    Marga Ann Deighton (Governor's wife)  
    George Nardelli (Celler Club manager)  
    Peter Camlin (Bartender)  
    Jeffrey Sayre (Croupier)  
    Francis Ravel (Commissar)  
    Louis Mercier (Commissar)  
    Ida Angustian (Claire)  
    Luis Mata Jr. (Sandy)  
    Marcel de la Brosse (French waiter)  
    Eddie Le Baron (Chemin de fer dealer)  
    Donald Lawton (Henri)  
    Alan Caillou (Sir Gerald)  
    Joe Romantini (Barkeep)  
    Andre Phillipe (Page)  
    Eugene Borden (Customs inspector)  

Summary: On the French Riviera, Theo Wilkins reunites with his old friend Paul Mason, who has spent the last three years in an American penitentiary. When the wary Paul wonders why Theo suddenly sent him a plane ticket to fly to France, Theo takes him to a sidewalk café, where Pancho and Melanie, seated at a rear table, size him up. Pancho and Melanie are two of Theo's five accomplices in an elaborate caper he is planning, and Theo begs Paul to join them and be the "one friendly face among strangers." Theo, who was once a prominent science professor before turning to crime and being unceremoniously "cast out into the gutter," has devised his revenge in the form of what he terms an elaborate experiment that will make the world gasp--the $4,000,000 robbery of the Monte Carlo casino. Reluctant to commit himself, the cautious Paul agrees only to meet Theo's five accomplices at a tawdry club, where Melanie performs seductive dances while Pancho plays saxophone. In addition to Melanie and Pancho, Paul is introduced to Raymond Le May, who works as the secretary to the casino director and is in Melanie's thrall; Louis, a seasoned safecracker; and Hugo Baumer, an expert mechanic and get-away driver. Paul suggests continuing the discussion at Pancho's hotel room, and there they examine a blueprint of the casino that depicts a private elevator leading from the director's office to the vault two floors below. The next day, everyone except Raymond and Theo regroup in Pancho's room, and Paul agrees to throw his lot in with them on the condition that he be given total authority. Paul then asserts that they must move up the heist to the evening of the Governor's Ball, the night the casino will be the most crowded, and to draw the timid Raymond deeper into their web, insists that he issue them invitations to the ball. After Hugo purchases a limousine, an ambulance and a swift get-away car, the group holds a dress rehearsal of the theft. Posing as a wheelchair-ridden baron, Pancho, accompanied by Theo, the baron's "personal physician," drives to the casino in a limousine chauffeured by Hugo. Meanwhile, Paul and Louis check out access to the governor's apartment and the elevator leading to the vault. On the night of the ball, they reconvene at Pancho's, and Paul is surprised to discover that Melanie does not live there, but has her own place. When Theo shows Pancho a cyanide tablet that will make it appear that he has suffered a heart attack, thus creating a diversion at the casino, Pancho balks, fearful that the tablet may kill him. At the casino, Louis, Melanie and Paul present their invitations, and soon after, Pancho and Theo, as the baron and his physician, arrive. Paul and Louis then slip out the window and onto a narrow terrace to scale the casino façade up to the governor's apartment. Louis, terrified of heights, is prodded by Paul until they reach the elevator and descend to the vault. As Louis drills open the safe, upstairs in the casino, the Duc di Salins recognizes Melanie as an exotic dancer. When the Duc alerts the casino director about Melanie, Raymond begins to lose his nerve, but Melanie coolly instructs him to delay the police. Meanwhile, at the roulette table, Theo reminds Pancho to take his medicine and when Pancho places the tablet in his mouth but refuses to bite down on it, Theo injects him with a dose of cyanide, after which he collapses. After declaring that his patient has suffered a heart attack, Theo advises that the baron be taken to the director's office. Soon after, a concerned doctor knocks at the door to report that he detected the odor of cyanide, thus disputing Theo's diagnosis of a heart attack. Stating that he was simply being discreet, Theo explains that the baron committed suicide and then calls for an ambulance to pick up the body. After Theo and the others leave the room to wait for the ambulance, Paul and Louis, carrying a satchel of stolen bank notes, enter the office, stash the money in the seat of the wheelchair and then take the elevator up to the governor's apartment. As they slip onto the ledge to climb down to the casino, Melanie struggles to unlock a window so that they can sneak back inside. Soon after the window pops open, the police arrive to question Melanie about her escort. Just then, Louis and Paul appear and identify themselves as Melanie's escorts. As Louis and Melanie dance toward the exit and their waiting car, Paul nods to Theo that their mission is a success. Turning to the director, Theo suggests removing the baron in his wheelchair so as not to call attention to his condition. They then wheel the baron to the waiting ambulance, where Paul and Hugo, dressed as ambulance attendants, wheel him in. After the ambulance drives off, the exhilarated Theo anxiously anticipates hearing "the world gasp" about his crime, and then exhausted, drifts off to sleep. Soon after, Pancho regains consciousness and notices that Theo has died. Pulling off the road, Paul tearfully cradles Theo's lifeless body in his arms and insists on driving him back to his hotel. Melanie asks to go with them, and after putting Theo to bed, Melanie confides that she envies him because he died happy. When Paul bitterly muses about Theo's inauspicious fall from hero to social pariah, Melanie realizes that Paul is Theo's son. Deciding to renounce their share of the money, Paul and Melanie return to Pancho's, and after Paul scrutinizes the bank notes, he discerns that they have been newly minted and recorded and are therefore unspendable. Paul then reasons that if they return the money, the casino will forgo pressing charges to avoid a scandal. When the others disagree, Paul pulls his gun and they resentfully toss the bank notes into a suitcase. Returning to the casino, Paul and Melanie drop an envelope addressed to the director that contains the claim check for the suitcase. As the director retrieves the satchel, Paul places a bet at the roulette table and wins handsomely. 

Production Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Distribution Company: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.  
Director: Henry Hathaway (Dir)
  Ad Schaumer (Asst dir)
Producer: Sydney Boehm (Prod)
Writer: Sydney Boehm (Scr)
Photography: Sam Leavitt (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Lyle R. Wheeler (Art dir)
  John De Cuir (Art dir)
Film Editor: Dorothy Spencer (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Walter M. Scott (Set dec)
  Stuart A. Reiss (Set dec)
Costumes: Bill Thomas (Cost des)
Music: Dominic Frontiere (Mus)
Sound: Charles Peck (Sd)
  Harry M. Leonard (Sd)
Make Up: Ben Nye (Makeup)
  Myrl Stoltz (Hair styles)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the novel The Lions at the Kill by Max Catto (London, 1959).
Authors: Max Catto

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. 31/12/1959 dd/mm/yyyy LP15348

PCA NO: 19432
Physical Properties: Sd: Westrex Recording System
  b&w:
  Widescreen/ratio: CinemaScope
  Lenses/Prints: lenses by Bausch & Lomb

 
Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Crime
 
Subjects (Major): Casinos
  Monte Carlo (Monaco)
  Revenge
  Robbery
  Thieves
 
Subjects (Minor): Balls (Parties)
  Dancers
  Drugging
  Ex-convicts
  Fathers and sons
  Impersonation and imposture
  Police
  Professors
  Reputation
  Safecrackers
  Secretaries

Note: Although a Jul 1959 HR news item notes that Anne Bancroft was to play the female lead, and an LAEx news item adds that offers were made to Fredric March and Richard Widmark to play the two top male leads, none of these actors appeared in the film. A Feb 1959 LAEx news item notes that Stewart Granger and Jean Simmons were also considered for the leads. Although May Britt is listed in an early HR production chart, she does not appear in the released film. A HR production chart places Thayer David in the cast, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The Var review states that backgrounds were filmed at the French Riviera and Monte Carlo, Monaco. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   25 Jan 1960.   
Daily Variety   19 Jan 60   p. 3.
Film Daily   20 Jan 60   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Jul 59   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   31 Jul 59   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Oct 59   p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter   19 Jan 60   p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner   20 Feb 1959.   
Los Angeles Examiner   5 Jun 1959.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   23 Jan 60   p. 564.
New York Times   12 Mar 60   p. 14.
Variety   20 Jan 60   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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