Michael Mann’s ‘Thief’ and ‘Manhunter’ – Sordid Cinema Podcast #56

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Whether you think of Michael Mann as a strict stylist or as an auteur deserving of more specific scrutiny, there’s no denying that he’s one of the most aesthetically influential American filmmakers of the last few decades. WithHannibal strewing blood across TV screens presently, it seemed an appropriate time to look back at Mann’s take on the Lecter/Graham mythos, Manhunter, along with his theatrical feature debut, the gritty James Caan vehicle Thief.


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  1. Norm in SoCal says


    I enjoyed the show.

    Regarding the ‘hidden plot’ mentioned, how could the hair on the tissue note have come from the guard? In the scene with Beverly Katz in the forensics lab, Graham said he brought hair samples from Lecktor and the guard, so it seems Katz would have compared the hair on the tissue note to the sample from the guard, and ruled him out.

  2. Paul D says

    I checked out Thief after hearing your podcast and am amazed that anyone could interpret the ending as happy or optimistic. Frank gives up on his dream of a normal life – wife, kid, house – and reverts to not caring whether he or anyone else lives or dies. That’s why he throws the collage away – he realises that the fantasy is unobtainable. He literally and figuratively walks into the darkness at the end.

    1. Ricky says

      I swear , so many people have said that and in the commentary , James Caan says it is an optimistic ending.

    2. Edgar Chaput says

      Yeah, agreed. I think I even say as much on the show that a happier interpretation of the ending would be surprising.

      Look, James Caan plays the actual character so he can say whatever he wants. It doesn’t mean we have to agree with him.

      1. Ricky says

        yeah, you tell Caan he is wrong. I’m not. than man scared me.

        1. Edgar Chaput says

          I’m not going anywhere near him. Even at his age he would probably kick the living shit out of me.

  3. Jack Deth says

    Hi guys:

    Great pod cast, discussion and reviews!

    Caan embodies Frank’s contradictions marvelously. In one of the great and minutely detailed heist film of the 1970s in particular and overall in general.

    Thanks for the audio clip of the diner scene! And yes, there is no happy ending in this gem.

    The prison Zen attitude of Frank is surprisingly similar to Nick Nolte’s attitude in Karel Reisz’s ‘Who’ll Stop The Rain’ from 1978.

    1. Ricky says

      Thanks Jack. I’ve actually never seen Who’ll Stop the Rain so I’ll be sure to check it out!

  4. Mario in Philly says

    Looking forward to the Manhunter discussion. I’ve been thinking about this movie since the TV show Hannibal premiered. I need to refresh myself with the movie plus I’d like to see what similarities and differences there are in transfering this film to a ongoing series.

    1. Ricky says

      Manhunter is clearly the main inspiration for the series. Hope you like our show.

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