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The Thief (1952)

Ray Milland , Martin Gabel , Russell Rouse  |  NR |  DVD
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ray Milland, Martin Gabel, Harry Bronson, Rita Vale, Rex O'Malley
  • Directors: Russell Rouse
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 2, 2012
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005UQ8G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #100,268 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Thief" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

The Thief is a piercing Hitchcockesque thriller about a Communist spy who kills an FBI agent and is haunted by his guilty conscience. The most unique suspense story of the sound era, without a single word spoken! Brilliant production with beautiful photog

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unspeakably Brilliant June 5, 2002
"The Thief," a moody and atmospheric noir masterpiece, is one of the most thoroughly engrossing espionage movies I have ever seen. The plot is intense and thrilling, the black and white cinematography visually stunning, the acting superb. The story revolves around a nuclear physicist (Ray Milland) who is also a spy. Torn by guilt and doubt and sinking deeper and deeper into dispair as FBI agents close in on him, he is forced into making a terrifying choice. All without a single word of dialogue.
The movie succeeds mainly because of the brilliant acting ability of Ray Milland. His performance, which owes much of its flavour to his Oscar winning role in "The Lost Weekend," is quite probably his best ever. Dialogue would have destroyed this movie because its atmosphere thrives on the solitude and loneliness of spies and their world.
I have read many reviews that mention that "The Thief" leaves unclear the political convictions of the protagonist as well as the name of the country for which he actually works. Why the emphasis on this I do not understand since the movie intentionally leaves so many things unclear (i.e.: Ray Milland is the only character whose name we learn). I feel that this works decidedly to the movies' advantage. Isn't that the very nature of espionage?
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The next voice you hear... February 26, 2005
I may be the first person in fifty years who didn't know the gimmick when I sat down to watch THE THIEF. At least I didn't for the first eight minutes or so. Then I checked the back of the dvd jacket and saw that THE THIEF contained no dialogue. That explained things. Relaxed, I sat back and found myself enjoying it more and more.

It begins very slowly. Nuclear physicist Ray Milland is selling secrets to a foreign power. The movie spends a good chunk of time showing us what he's doing, who he's doing it with, and how it's done. A picture may indeed be worth a thousand words, but a line or two of dialogue really helps to move a plot along. Without words, but with ambient sounds, a modern acting technique (circa 1952), a vital, Oscar-nominated score by Herschel Burke Gilbert and an artful acting job by Milland the point is made. Milland is by turns frightened, apprehensive, anxious. And things are going to get worse.

There are limitations to a movie with no dialogue, or title cards, or even the ever-helpful note. It's not until the movie is nearly an hour old that we finally get to take a peek over a Fed's shoulder to read a teletyped message. Of course, by then we're pros at reading the silent action and the typed message isn't even that helpful. We'd figured it out two scenes ago. Worse, for the movie-goer, is the introduction of the Rita Gam character (`The Girl' in the credits.) A tenant in a low-rent apartment building Milland spends some time in, Gam gets to arch her eyebrows fetchingly a time or two, and do great justice to her surname in a toenail painting scene, but her scenes with Milland simply don't work without dialogue.

No dialogue may taketh away, but it also giveth.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Movie June 8, 2002
By A Customer
Ray Milland proves again what an excellent and diverse actor he was in THE THIEF, one of the most interesting and unique movies it has been my pleasure to watch. The fact that there was no dialog seemed to dissapear as I became absorbed in the story. I think it was excellent.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thief September 16, 2009
I have the VHS version of this movie and I was glad when I saw it was on DVD.
The print is beautiful and surpasses the one on VHS.
G. Gonzalez
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Thief April 1, 2010
A first-rate crime thriller where Ray Milland and Rita Gam strut their stuff. Following in the footsteps of the gritty realism that 40's crime thrillers were about, this is an exceptionally well-acted (Ray Milland and Rita Gam are terrific), absorbing and entertaining movie with a classic espionage story.

Although the movie has a simple, but solid Film-Noir story, it is clear that the success of the film rests with the performance of Ray Milland.

If you want a smart, gritty Film-Noir with brains, you can't do much better than The Thief (1952).
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Voiceless in Manhattan January 24, 2008
Director Russell Rouse was best known in Hollywood as a terrific screen writer in the late 1940's and into the 50's-60's. He wrote screenplays for 18 films. He won an Oscar for his script for PILLOW TALK (1959). He had written D.O.A. (1950), another interesting shift in thriller perspective. [He also wrote the screenplay for the modern 1988 remake of D.O.A.] His first directorial effort was THE WELL (1951), and then he sat at the creative helm for THE THIEF (1952). Interestingly, this hot shot screen writer picked a topic that included the challenge of silence. He wrote the script and directed the film. A bit of a maverick, he only directed 11 films in his career, 1951-1967, which included THE FASTEST GUN ALIVE (1956), with Glenn Ford, and ended up with THE OSCAR (1966), with Stephen Boyd.

Except for Charlie Chaplin's CITY LIGHTS (1931), THE THIEF (1952) was the first film to use fully synchronized sound, and yet did not have a single word or line of dialogue. Chaplin created what probably was the "last silent movie". Mel Brooks fans were delighted and a bit perplexed when he released SILENT MOVIE (1976), containing only one word of dialogue spoken by the recently deceased world renowned Mime--Marcel Marceau. THE THIEF was not very well received at the box office, being considered a "gimmick" film. Perhaps, though, it was far more than that.

Ray Milland played award-winning physicist Allen Fields. We are introduced to him just as he was being "contacted" by his foreign agent compeers. In a dark apartment, a dial phone rings three times. A man lies fully clothed on the bed, listening. After a few moments it rings three more times, and then stops. Milland rises reluctantly, visibly agitated, conflicted, and unsettled. He walks the dark streets of Washington D.C.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The product and service was excellent.
The movie is alright. It just has sentimental value for me. The product and service was excellent.
Published 1 month ago by snappy
2.0 out of 5 stars not for me
slow moving, predictable and shallow. perhaps because it was novel at the time it went over better, no dialogue, little action and zero character development. Read more
Published 6 months ago by will crow
4.0 out of 5 stars A must for the serious cinematographer!
I purchased this movie before I read the reviews and realized a short time into the movie that there were no speaking parts. I stuck with the movie and was glad I did. Read more
Published 12 months ago by CJ
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Say A Word
So Ray didn't. Good nourish thriller with little dialogue. Interesting gimmick classy directorship and photography. A welcome addition to my dvd collection.
Published 12 months ago by Paul Barrett
4.0 out of 5 stars Just for the real diehard moviegoers
No stupid dialogue. Old time suspense .thriller without any missing action
Watch it in silence. Go back in time for real acting.
Published 14 months ago by Charles Brennan
4.0 out of 5 stars The Thief
A first-rate crime thriller where Ray Milland and Rita Gam strut their stuff. Following in the footsteps of the gritty realism that 40's crime thrillers were about, this is an... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Bartok Kinski
5.0 out of 5 stars the thief
i personally don't recall ever hearing about the thief until just recently. it stars ray milland, who plays a scientist selling secrets to a foreign government. Read more
Published 15 months ago by sjlennon
3.0 out of 5 stars There Is a Reason Why Sound Movies Were Not a Passing Fancy
I am one of those viewers who watched this film without knowing ahead of time that it has not one word of dialogue. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Alexander S. White
5.0 out of 5 stars theif ray millard
if you like my father and oldtimer and like Ray Milland you like this dvd also One of his many good movies he play in I also like it 46yrs old
Published on January 22, 2013 by Michael Andersen
3.0 out of 5 stars A little gem
This is hardly great cinema, but it is an interesting exercise in making what is essentially a silent film in a time when silent films were a quickly receding memory. Read more
Published on December 27, 2012 by H. Hemken
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