The diner scene in Thief is one of James Caan‘s best acting moments ever (obviously), but also the most emotionally wide open and vulnerable in a given screen moment. And the scene doesn’t work, of course, without Tuesday Weld‘s defensiveness, defiance and hostility gradually downshifting into moderation and then listening, and then opening up herself. And finally accepting what’s being offered.

Hat tip and condolences to director-writer Michael Mann.

Sidenote: Any sensible woman would realize, of course, that a professional diamond thief whose survival motto is “nothin’ means ‘nothin'” is not a good bet for a domestic relationship with an adopted kid. Sooner or later the shit will come down and he’ll get out the lead pipe and clobber the aggressor and then the nihilism will kick in. Almost everyone who watches Thief can see this, but the film is so mesmerizing and so well acted that they let it go.