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George At 

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Director Michael Mann (Miami Vice, Heat, Manhunter) made his big screen debut with the great 1981 crime thriller THIEF, starring James Caan in one of his best performances.

Caan is Frank, a professional safecracker who works selectively and carefully with a trusted team. This group includes a young James Belushi as Barry, his right hand man. Belushi is surprisingly good in this serious role.

Beyond Barry, there are very few people in Frank's life he is close to beyond his former prison cellmate Okla (Willie Nelson, also very good) and his new girlfriend Jessie, played by Tuesday Weld in one of her last screen performances.

When Frank does a job for big crime boss Leo (played with oily, violent charm by Robert Prosky) his life takes a sudden turn toward happiness thanks to the generosity and gifts of appreciation from Leo.

But every gift has a price.

Caan is excellent and is in nearly every frame of Thief, carrying it like a champ. You believe every emotion and man does Caan run the gamut.

There are several terrific actions sequences, including a nearly dialogue free, opening safe cracking scene that was one of the first examples of Mann's distinct style.

This is one of the best films of the early eighties and its almost criminal that Caan didn't receive more recognition for his performance.

A thinking person's thriller and like Mann's "Heat" has long quiet moments that invest you deep into the characters. Some will say it's slow, I just say it's incredibly well done.

Thief steals an A+ and a spot in my all time Top 100.

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