Retro Heaven

It Takes a Thief!

Robert Wagner, gentleman tea leaf!…

Orig16 61 ‘It Takes a Thief’ was a popular television series of sixty six episodes which ran for three seasons on the American ABC network from 1968 until 1970. Robert Wagner, later of Hart to Hart fame played the lead role of an educated cat burglar who stole in order to maintain a lavish lifestyle.

The story takes off when Alexander Mundy (Wagner) who has been caught and jailed is approached by the US government with an exchange deal. He steals for them and he goes free. By the third season we are introduced to his father, Alistair who also happens to be a gentleman thief and is played by none other than Fred Astaire.

The title is based on the old proverb; “It takes a thief to catch a thief’ and was created in the headlong rush to copy the James Bond franchise. Television networks were desperate to reproduce the Fleming character in whatever way possible and Wagner’s looks and attire would back that premise up. But by the early 1970s the spy genre had more or less had its day, many of the Bond inspired spy series were, at best average and whilst this particular series was better than most the networks were looking for a new approach.

The series takes you on the typical European/Simon Templar journey to the Italian Riviera but you are rewarded with a selection of European castings from Bond girl Martine Beswick to the stunning Senta Berger (Quiller Memorandum) Bill Bixby and even Bette Davis.

The theme tune was composed by Dave Grusin and epitomizes the TV and film soundtracks of the era. Whilst ‘It Takes a Thief’ never reached the heights of Hart to Hart it helped put Wagner on the map of mainstream television and film actors in the 1970s. There is an 18 disc box set available and you could do worse than spend an hour on a wet Sunday afternoon reliving the dreamy playboy inspired soundtrack for any Retro Culturati fan!

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