Burglar (film)

Burglar is a 1987 Canadian-American comedy film directed by Hugh Wilson and distributed by Warner Bros. The film stars Whoopi Goldberg and Bobcat Goldthwait.

Theatrical poster for Burglar
Directed byHugh Wilson
Produced byMichael Hirsh
Kevin McCormick
Written byJeph Loeb
Matthew Weisman
Hugh Wilson
Based onThe Burglar in the Closet by Lawrence Block (novel)
Music bySylvester Levay
CinematographyWilliam A. Fraker
Edited byFredric Steinkamp
William Steinkamp
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
March 20, 1987
Running time
103 minutes
United States
Box office$16,357,355 (sub-total)


Bernice "Bernie" Rhodenbarr, a former San Francisco burglar, resumes her life of crime when a corrupt police officer named Ray Kirschman blackmails her.

A dentist, Dr. Cynthia Sheldrake, hires Bernice to break into her ex-husband Christopher's home and steal back her jewelry. Things take a turn for the worse when Christopher is murdered while Bernie is robbing his home, and thanks to Sheldrake and her lawyer Carson, Bernie is the only suspect.

To clear her name Bernice and her friend Carl hop from bar to bar looking for someone who knew Christopher. They find out that Christopher had quite a few girlfriends... and boyfriends. Bernice has three new suspects after an old flame of Christopher's tells her about an artist, a bartender, and a mysterious man known only by his nickname: "Heeeeeeere's Johnny!"

Bernice investigates the artist and the bartender only to have them show up dead. With no clues or witnesses, Bernice waits for Dr. Sheldrake in her home to confront her. Demanding she tell her everything she knew about Christopher, she concludes that Cynthia herself had sex with her ex the night he was murdered.

During the conversation the TV flashes to an episode of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. Bernice realizes Carson knew the doctor's ex. Bernice calls Carson to meet her in the park with the bag of jewelry Bernice was commissioned to steal in the first place. Bernice has also deduced that Carson was in love with Christopher himself. A scuffle ensues and Bernice, along with her friend Carl and Ray, capture Carson.



The film was adapted from the 1978 novel The Burglar in the Closet by Lawrence Block; in Block's book, Bernie Rhodenbarr is a white man. It was also the first R-rated and live-action production from the Canadian animation company Nelvana.[1]

In a 2013 interview with Kevin Smith, screenwriter Jeph Loeb disclosed that Burglar was initially intended to be a serious vehicle for Bruce Willis with Whoopi Goldberg filling the role of the character's neighbor. (The film was based on the second of a long-running series of novels about a professional burglar, Bernard "Bernie" Rhodenbar.) When Willis dropped out, Goldberg took on the lead role.[2]


Critical reception was largely negative. Roger Ebert described the film as "a witless, hapless exercise in the wrong way to package Goldberg. This is a woman who is original. Who is talented. Who has a special relationship with the motion picture comedy. It is criminal to put her into brain-damaged, assembly-line thrillers."[3]

See also


  1. "Nelvana crosses the border for live action and Whoopi". Toronto Star. 1986-06-28. p. F.6. Retrieved 2010-06-17.
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-11-20. Retrieved 2016-09-08.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. Ebert, Roger. "Burglar Movie Review & Film Summary (1987)". Rogerebert.com. Retrieved 10 March 2019.
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