Programmed by Ian Resnick
Film nostalgia for me comes in the form of early 2000s heist movies watched on the couch past 9 o’clock on cable TV with kernels of popcorn stuck in my teeth and Sour Patch Kids staining my tongue an inflamed red. The Italian Job, the Ocean’s movies, and other favorites transported me to a world of smooth-talking con artists, pulsing soundtracks, and unbeatable odds inevitably beaten. This series pulls back the curtain of the late-night cable TV staple, exploring its origins in American and French Noir, altered through British comedic capers and gritty Hong Kong bloodbaths. The lineup reveals the diversity and fluidity of the genre, stretched by directors to reach new aesthetic, comedic, and narrative heights. The disjunction of Stanley Kubrick’s The Killing, the biting wit and intensity of Joseph Sargent’s The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, the divergent aesthetics of Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket. The heist has provided a unique platform for the adventurous director, an open door for complexity and ingenuity in style, character, narrative, and tone, suggestive of the unwieldy contemporary heists we all know and love. Whether you’re here for the driving scores, ridiculous schemes, dry-as-bone humor, or the nostalgia, these heists are sure to make your heart race and your palms sweat.
· (Steven Soderbergh, 2001) ·
Steven Soderbergh’s warm, thrilling, and hopelessly funny 2001 remake of the 1960 original is a film that in Soderbergh’s words “has no desire except to give you pleasure from beginning to end.” The epitome of the cable TV heist, Oceans 11 makes good on its director's promise, following Danny Ocean (George Clooney) as he assembles a team of criminals to rob three casinos in Las Vegas—a plot rife with greed, adrenaline, and suave revenge.
runtime: 116m format: 35mm
· (Wes Anderson, 1996) ·
The first feature-length film for the decisively idiosyncratic director Wes Anderson, Bottle Rocket originated as a black and white 13-minute short written by Anderson and Owen Wilson, starring Owen and his brother Luke. Anderson’s visual style can be seen in its budding stages in this hilarious, dream-like tale of two best friends who stage a convoluted robbery of a bookstore, then escape “on the lam” to pursue an idealized life of crime.
runtime: 91m format: 35mm
· (John Huston, 1950) ·
This 1950 noir is considered the first ever heist film, catapulting the genre into cultural prominence and establishing many of its defining tropes. Just released from prison, Erwin “Doc” Reidenschneider hatches a plot to steal a million dollars' worth of jewels, recruiting a safe-cracker, driver, and heavy. The heist goes mostly to plan, but the aftermath collapses into deception and greed. Featuring Marilyn Monroe in her breakout role as Angela Phinlay.
runtime: 112m format: DCP
· (Jules Dassin, 1955) ·
Jules Dassin’s first film after being blacklisted out of Hollywood in 1949, and what is considered his masterpiece, Rififi has everything: suspense, surprise, grit, and dark humor, making it one of the most influential films for the heist genre. This twisting film which has been called “the greatest of all film noirs," follows four ex-cons who execute one last plot in Paris, centering around a 30-minute silent and excruciatingly tense heist sequence.
runtime: 118m format: DCP
· (Peter Collinson, 1969) ·
The penultimate representative of the comedic British caper, The Italian Job is an irresistibly fun and exciting heist, stuffed to the gills with Mini Coopers, a charming young Michael Caine, and a killer soundtrack by Quincy Jones. A plan is orchestrated to steal $4 million in gold bullion from the city of Turin, using a traffic jam as a means of robbery and escape. The 2003 version, a staple in the American living room, was an homage to this original.
runtime: 99m format: DCP
· (Joseph Sargent, 1974) ·
A wry subway takeover, mixing grinding tension with witty satire that is sure to make any New Yorker’s cheeks flush. Complete with submachine guns, glasses, '70s misogyny, and one incredible score. Joseph Sargent’s inventive heist follows the capture of a downtown 6 train by a criminal gang led by Mr. Blue. They take 18 hostages and demand a million dollars within the hour. The color-coded aliases were borrowed by Quentin Tarantino for Reservoir Dogs.
runtime: 104m format: Digital
· (Stanley Kubrick, 1956) ·
Stanley Kubrick’s self-proclaimed first “mature feature” is a twisting noir of a racetrack robbery. Kubrick recruited pulp novelist Jim Thompson to construct this heist which leaps through time and space, punctuated by many of Kubrick’s visual signatures. Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden) recruits a five man team to stage a two-million dollar robbery of the Lansdowne Racetrack, a final big score before he weds his fiancée Fay (Coleen Gray) and goes straight.
runtime: 84m format: Digital
· (Spike Lee, 2006) ·
Featuring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe, and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Spike Lee’s contribution to the heist genre is a taut, energetic, and cleverly crafted thriller. Washington stars as Detective Keith Frazier, who is assigned to negotiate a hostage crisis during a Manhattan bank robbery. Frazier faces off with Dalton Russel (Owen), the mastermind behind the heist, in a twisting dance riddled with red herrings.
runtime: 129m format: 35mm