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Five great heist movies you should watch

Woman in shadows
Film Noir Photo by Roy Clarke from Pixabay

I love heist movies. You know, where there is a group of criminals and some sort of elaborate scheme involved. Sometimes the heist goes bad. Sometimes there is a double cross. Rarely is there a successful line between planning and execution. There are unintended consequences, twists, betrayals. Most of them are done pretty well and the thing I like is that they are pure entertainment. There have been dozens made over the years but will limit the list to some of my favorites.

The List (in no particular order)

Basil Rathbone actor
Basil Rathbone Photo by Skeeze from Pixabay

Rififi (1955) I love this movie. It is French with subtitles and different than most heist movies in that female characters are a major part of the story and not just window dressing. There are double crosses, kidnapping, murder and of course it ends badly for just about everybody. The story involves a safe cracking at a jewelry store and the entire scene is outstanding..almost no dialogue and plenty of suspense. The theme song of the movie is sung by Magali Noel (Viviane) and is one of the women crucial to the story. It is a complicated plot but moves right along. Watch this one when you can.

The Asphalt Jungle (1950) Film noir at its best. Bleak city streets...dingy diners...shabby apartments. Doc Riedenschneider (Sam Jaffe) gets out of prison and cooks up a scheme to rip off a jewelry store. He gets funding to do this from some shady characters and hires the team. These include the safecracker Louie (Anthony Caruso), getaway driver (James Whitmore) and muscle Dix (Sterling Hayden). Dix and his girl Doll (Jean Hagen) have a dream to start a horse farm. There are double crosses, murder and the usual scheme gone awry consequences. Marilyn Monroe also has a small part as the mistress of the shady lawyer who fronts the money.

The Score (2001) Marlon Brando...Robert DeNiro...Edward Norton..nuff said. Brando's last feature movie. Max (Brando) plays a fence who convinces master safe cracker Nick (DeNiro) to pull off the heist of a 17th century gold French scepter from the Montreal Custom house. The other participant in the scheme Jack (Norton) is already on the inside playing an intellectually disabled janitor. DeNiro plays the usual intense criminal (is there anyone better?). Brando is fantastic as the fence in to some organized figures for some money. Norton is the new guy out to prove something. Three separate agendas. I guess you know how that will work out. Angela Bassett plays Nick's love interest. A great twist ending.

Heist (2001) Joe (Gene Hackman) runs a professional crime ring along with Bobby (Delroy Linda), Pinky (Ricky Jay - great character actor...RIP) and Joe's wife Fran (Rebecca Pidgeon). After a job, Joe wants to retire, but his fence Mickey (Danny DeVito) insists on one last score. Mickey also insists his nephew Jimmy Silk (Sam Rockwell) be included in the crew. There is an elaborate scheme to rip off a gold shipment from an airplane. Double crosses, kidnapping, shifting loyalties...all the good stuff in a heist movie. Patti Lupone has a small role as an alcoholic security guard at the airport. Another great twist in the end.

Heat (1995) This movie does not have all the twists and turns of the usual heist movie, but the action sequences, acting and sprawling story more than make up for it. Master criminal Neil (DeNiro) and his crew have one final score (of course). Things are complicated by a psychotic addition named Waingro (Kevin Gage) and relationships between Chris (Val Kilmer) and Charlene (Ashley Judd) as well as Neil and Evy (Amy Brenneman). Hot on the crews trail are cop Vincent (Al Pacino) and others to include Ted Levine, Wes Studi and Mykelti Williamson. Great action sequences.

The End?

Woman waling down stairs with man behind her
This will not end well Photo by Daniela Jakob from Pixabay

What? No Oceans Eleven....or Ronin...or Italian Job...or Confidence....etc. Like I said, I could only pick five. There are dozens more.

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marge k.
marge k.
Dec 09, 2019

Never saw Rififi, but the others definitely qualify as must sees!

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