Double Impact! Presents ‘Thief’ (1981)

From the cinephiliac minds of Sailor Monsoon and Vincent Kane comes a new collaborative review series called Double Impact! For these opinion pieces, we watch a film, break it down and analyze it and then haphazardly try to attribute points and awards to individual scenes and/or actors. Through our convoluted thought process, neither one of us truly understands, we will definitively determine whether or not certain sacred cows are worthy of praise and alternatively if childhood favorites hold up or are better left in the past. The goal is to get you to rewatch old films you love, check out great stuff you haven’t and skip the overrated classics you’ve heard about but never got around to. This is a celebration of the stuff we love and a takedown of the shit we don’t. This is Double Impact!


Thief was Michael Mann’s directorial debut where he hired actual thieves to be technical advisors for the heist scenes so that they were as authentic as possible. John Santucci, who plays the role of corrupt cop Urizzi, was a recently paroled thief and acted as one of those technical advisers. Mann used the German electronic band, Tangerine Dream, for the score which was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Musical Score. The film debut at the Cannes Film Festival under the original title of Violent Streets. Thief was not a box office success but was a hit with critics as Roger Ebert described Thief as “one of the most intelligent thrillers I’ve seen” and gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars.

Kane: Thief is a crime drama about, well, a thief who is a professional safecracker and he is trying to leave the life of crime. But they keep pulling him back in!

Sailor: That last part is from the wrong movie.

Kane: As he comes closer to his dreams, he agrees to do one more job but the Mafia has different plans for him. See, he wants out but they won’t let him. It works.

Sailor: Continue.

Kane: James Caan (The Godfather) stars as the titular thief Frank.

Sailor: Hehe

Kane: Tuesday Weld (Once Upon a Time in America) plays his girlfriend Jessie.

Sailor: I don’t remember a girl.

Kane: How do you not remember the girl? The diner scene where Jessie and Frank talk is one of the best scenes of the movie.

Sailor: Doesn’t ring a bell.

Kane: smh. Well, good thing we are rewatching it. To round out the rest of the cast, we have quite of few actors making their film debut. Jim Belushi(K-9, Red Heat), William Peterson (Manhunter, CSI) and Dennis Farina (Midnight Run, Law & Order)


Kane: Shut up. He was like 60.

Sailor: He started his film career at 50.

Kane: Mr. Lundy from Mrs. Doubtfire?

Sailor: Yes sir.

Kane: That’s nuts. Can’t forget to mention Willie Nelson as Okla.

Sailor: He is a surprisingly good actor.

Sailor: What’s your favorite scene? Your Impact Scene if you will.

Kane: It has to be the diner scene. It makes the movie for me. It’s the heart of the whole story with James Caan and Tuesday Weld just killing it by just having a conversation. The way the camera catches them walking and moves with them. The black backdrop with the neon lights and just the sound of the cars whizzing by while the world around them keeps spinning as they stop to have this conversation. James Caan has said this is the favorite scene he has ever done.

Sailor: I’m going to have to go with the heist. It’s one of the all-time great heists and there’s a lot of great heists in films. It’s one of the most realistic and authentic.

Unfortunately, there is not a quality video of the heist at this time but here is the first heist of the movie to get a feel of how authentic the film feels.

Kane: So, who the Impact Player for you here? Who is the MVP?

Sailor: James Caan. He set the template that all near-silent badasses have followed. There is no The Driver or Drive without his performance and this film.

Kane: Michael Mann. What he was able to do with this cast and characters. He makes it feel like you know this world and all the players instantly without much exposition. Just a great look all around.

Kane: But I gotta say Willie Nelson as Okla is a scene-stealer though. Like we discussed, he is a solid actor for what he does and he holds his own with Caan.

Sailor: Jim Belushi is really solid in this. He isn’t “Jim Belushi” yet so that helps. There was a small window where he was a really interesting supporting character actor. He’s great in Salvador and a handful of others around this time

Kane: Man, police brutality was a thing back in the day wasn’t it?

Sailor: and the Racism

Kane: Ah, the calling cards of the 80s.

Sailor: So, who we casting in a remake?

Kane: Willie is still Okla.

Sailor: The hardest part about recasting 70s movies is, we don’t have those types of actors anymore.

Kane: Ain’t that the truth. Who is like Caan? Michael Shannon?

Sailor: Shannon comes close. The only “movie star” that kinda comes close is Jon Bernthal.

Kane: I like Bernthal for this.

Sailor: Shit. That was easy.

Kane: Who is directing this?

Sailor: Since this is the coolest fucking movie ever, I’m trying to think of a cool director.

Kane: Refn pops in my head but that’s because he basically already did this movie.

Sailor: What about Chan-Wook Park?

Kane: Park would be fucking fantastic for this and Jeffrey Wright would make a great Prosky. Leader of the mob.

Sailor: You’re damn straight he would.


Director: Chan-Wook Park (Oldboy, Stoker)

Frank: Jon Bernthal (The Punisher, Baby Driver)

Leo: Jeffrey Wright (Shaft, Westworld)

Barry: Jonah Hill (Superbad, The Wolf of Wall Street)

Jessie: Naomie Harris (Moonlight, Skyfall)


Kane: A-

Sailor: A


I always thought Caan was wearing headphones in the movie poster.

I can fake it.

I always enjoyed Red Heat.

I wonder if Belushi cracks this safe like your mom’s titties?

He’s like a K-9 in heat. Get it?

Because he is a horndog?

And that movie he is in.

Red Heat?

No. The one with the hairy bitch.

Amy Schumer?

No. Jumpin Jack Flash.


What is your impression of Thief? Let us know some of your picks for the different categories like the Impact Player, best scene and who you would cast for a remake down in the comments.

Author: Vincent Kane

I hate things.