A few weeks ago I did a post comparing original heist movies and their remakes (Ocean’s Eleven, The Italian Job, and The Thomas Crown Affair). Today, I’m expanding things to include heist movies in general. As a forewarning, it’s a pretty eclectic list.
Where I live, this 1955 classic is going to be re-released onto the big screen next month (maybe where you live too?), and I’m pretty excited about that. Carey Grant plays a reformed jewel thief, Grace Kelly stars as a wealthy socialite, Alfred Hitchcock directs, and the French Riviera serves as the glittering backdrop. What’s not to love? (Also, this movie gets special mention in my book…I had fun weaving it into the story a little.)
Written and directed by David Mamet in 2001, starring Gene Hackman and Danny Devito. Gene Hackman plays a jewel thief, DeVito plays his fence. Roger Ebert said “Heist is the kind of caper movie that was made before special effects replaced wit, construction and intelligence.”
I’m partial to this one, of course, because of the female thief. But let’s face it, Entrapment retains its place in the public consciousness because of one thing: that laser beam scene.
The original, in 1969, starred Michael Caine. It featured spectacular car chase scenes through gorgeous Italian scenery, including a chase scene involving, gold bullion laden Mini Coopers. The remake, released in 2003, starred Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, and Edward Norton. They kept the Mini Cooper chase scene, but changed pretty much everything else, including, sadly, the Italian setting (apart from the opening sequence in Venice).
If you can believe it, a total of eleven Pink Panther movies have been made. The silly, slapstick, but lovable Pink Panther franchise gave us Peter Seller’s Inspector Clouseau, and–most significantly–the fabulous score by Henry Mancini.
This is anything but a typical heist story. But heist story it is. Leonardo DiCaprio plays a corporate thief, he assembles an ensemble crew, and they plan and execute a daring robbery. The fact that the robbery happens in people’s subconscious just makes it that much more awesome. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who, frankly, rocks my world.
More or less the opposite of Inception, in terms of genre, we have A Fish Called Wanda, a 1988 heist-comedy. The cast is stellar (Kevin Kline, Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese, Michael Palin) and I happen to think it’s one of the funniest movies ever made.
The original, made in 1960, was a Rat Pack classic starring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, and Sammy Davis Jr. The storyline featured elaborate casino heists in Las Vegas. The fun, clever remake had, in my opinion, the perfect balance of humor and action. Motley crew? Check. Impossible job? Check. Clooney AND Pitt? Yes, please.
First-rate actors (Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino, Val Kilmer) and lots of gritty action mark this 1995 crime movie. Michael Mann wrote and directed Heat. As he did the next one on our list…
James Caan plays a jewel thief, a professional safecracker, and an ex-con who gets entangled with the Chicago mafia in this neo-noir movie from 1981.
The original, from 1968, starred ultra-cool Steve McQueen as a millionaire businessman who robbed banks in Boston for sport. Faye Dunaway played an insurance investigator. They remade The Thomas Crown Affair in 1999, starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo. Same setup–a millionaire playboy who didn’t need to steal, but instead of robbing banks he was pilfering art, and instead of Boston it was set in New York.
A 1995 neo-noir film, twisty and clever with a convoluted narrative of flashbacks and time jumps. It featured an ensemble cast including Kevin Spacey (who won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), Gabriel Byrne, and Benicio del Toro, and it won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay.
So which one is your favorite?
Mine? It’s tough–I like so many of these. But if I had to pick a favorite, I’d have to say Ocean’s Eleven.
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