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Thief 1981 ****

Michael Mann established himself with a series of tight genre films in the early eighties including the articulate but butchered horror film The Keep. But his 1981 thriller Thief marks itself as a template for the hard-nosed, detailed character driven crime movie that led to Miami Vice, Heat and Public Enemies. James Caan is the hard-nosed safe-cracker, his job portrayed with such detail as a metallurgist’s dream. Rising to a dynamically films shootout, Thief has elements rare in modern thrillers; driven, professional blue collar hero, Robert Prosky (Hill Street Blues) in an unexpectedy sinister role, and yes, a throbbing Tangerine Dream score.

 

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