Showing posts with label heist movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heist movies. Show all posts

Monday, November 16, 2020

Watch Party Watch: The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974)




Watched:  11/13/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  third
Decade:  1970's (and sooooo 1970's)
Director:  Joseph Sargent

I saw this one the first time at the Paramount with absolutely zero context.  Back in the day, I'd just show up for whatever was showing during the Summer classics series, and it's how I first saw some of my "new favorite" films since college.  Third Man.  Sunset Boulevard.  and a host of others.  

And, yeah, I really like The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3 (1974).  It's a tidy caper movie, sharing screen time between the heisters and the heisted, but with no set up - just the execution.  So, when four guys take a subway car hostage on a weekday afternoon in New York, it makes no sense to the guys running the subway - blue collar schlubs whose jobs it is to literally make the trains run on time - and it takes a minute they don't have to figure out what the hell is going on.  Let alone - how the baddies think they're going to get away with it (they're trapped in a tunnel, too).  

The gang is a classic heist gang.  The master mind.  The wild card.  The dutiful sergeant.  The guy who is there as the inside man.  But part of what makes the movie is that the guys on the other side of the mic aren't hostage negotiators - they're public employees suddenly in a very weird position, running communications from the heisters all the way to the Mayor.  And, of course, they're a bunch of 1970's New Yorkers.  

As the world I live in is project and operational management, I get a kick out of heist films.   The heist = a project - and the plan for the heist, accounting for everything that can occur and keeping your stakeholders managed sure feels familiar.    The opposite side is operations, which are interrupted by the interference of the heist.  And - man, as I am wont to say - people are terrible in a crisis.

One detail I like about the film is that no one is working in synch on the MTA or government side.  From the mayor dithering and worrying about votes to the internal disagreement in the subway tracking office where Matthau is trying to keep things in hand.  I assure you, there's almost always someone in a crisis who is more bent out of shape that they can't do their usual job than aware of the actual unfolding situation than makes rational sense.

The movie was released in '74, so the occupants of the jobs likely have been sitting in that office since the late 1950's.  There's a casual racism and sexism pervading the scene and characters, and the film does comment on it - albeit not in the way we're used to in 2020.  Brace yourself for some stereotypes (especially among the hostages) and among the main cast.  It's a movie about an imperfect world that has to suddenly deal with the unknown.  

It's a tight film - the run time almost occurs in about half of real-time.  We don't worry too much about the home lives of the characters, and we don't even really know the motivations or what led up to the heist.  But what we do get is a wild mix of talent in the film which makes it work.  Walter Matthau, Robert Shaw, Jerry Stiller, Martin Balsam, Hector Elizondo, Doris Roberts, Julius Harris, Kenneth McMillan, and a bunch of other faces you'll recognize (I finally identified Robert Weil as also appearing in Hudsucker Proxy after it's bugged me every time I've watched this movie previously).   

Anyway, worth your time some time.


Friday, November 13, 2020

Friday Watch Party: The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3


Day:  Friday - 11/13/2020
Time:  8:30 Central


An outstanding cast!  New York in the 1970's!  Subways!

Personally, I think this is a heck of a movie, so we're not throwing something goofy at you.  


Monday, August 3, 2020

PODCAST: 113 - "A Fish Called Wanda" (1988) w/ SimonUK, Jamie and yours truly


Watched:  08/23/2020
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Charles CrichtonJohn Cleese

For more ways to listen

Jamie, SimonUK and yours truly revisit the 1988 favorite about a barrister, an animal lover, a moron, and Jamie Lee Curtis - all caught up in the fallout from a heist. Simon and Jamie can quote it, Ryan quite likes it, and we do our best not to talk about what makes something funny. And Ryan insists on further discussing JLC.




Music:
A Fish Called Wanda Suite - John Du Prez


Playlist:


Thursday, April 30, 2020

PODCAST: "The Killing" (1956) and "Asphalt Jungle" (1950) - Noir Watch! w/ JAL and Ryan



Watched:  04/03/2020 (Killing)/ 04/06/2020 (Asphalt)
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1950's
Directors:  Stanley Kubrick/ John Huston

More ways to listen

JAL and Ryan watch two noir classics. Both heists. Both starring Sterling Hayden. One directed by a young Stanley Kubrick, the other by John Huston. We dive into what makes them work, some terrific performances and which director was in his prime and which was sorting things out. It's a journey into movies that set the stage for every heist movie to come after.





Music:
Noir Watch Theme - The Unsuspected Main Theme - Franz Waxman
The Killing, Main and End Theme - Gerald Fried
The Asphalt Jungle Theme - Miklos Rosza


Noir Watch Playlist:


Sunday, March 1, 2020

Heist Watch: The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)



Watched:  02/29/2020
Format:  HBO
Viewing:  Second or third
Decade:  1990's

Back in the 90's, in an era where not every movie needed to kick-start a franchise or go for Oscar gold, sometimes you'd just have an entertaining movie.

It's been years since I last saw The Thomas Crown Affair remake from 1999, then 31 years after the release of the original - which I didn't see until the last ten years, but I recalled liking the 1999 edition, even if I did not feel like I needed to have it in my DVD collection.  Stars Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo are charismatic and effortless in their parts, the story isn't a mind-bender, but engaging, and the supporting cast - while distinctly 90's-ish in stance and dialog, works well around our leads.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Heist Watch: Cash On Demand (1962)



Watched:  01/08/2020
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1960's

I'd heard Hammer produced some thrillers and whatnot, but I'd not really seen any - my exposure to the studio's output had been mostly limited to their horror films.

Shown as a Christmas treat by Noir Alley's Eddie Muller - who fessed up that it's more noir adjacent than noir - this small-scale production is a terrific sort-of real-time story of a robbery at a bank branch in a small town well outside of London.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Noir Watch: Kansas CIty Confidential (1952)


Watched:  11/27/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

Somehow I'd never seen Kansas City Confidential (1952), but if I'd known it starred John Payne, Coleen Gray, Lee Van Cleef and Jack Elam, I would have tried a lot harder to see it sooner.

A windy, twisty heist caper - this one is told from the outside as John Payne plays an ex-con who is accidentally/ sorta framed for a bank heist when masked robbers pull a job worth $1.2 million (that's about $11.6 million now), using a duplicate of his flower delivery van.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Noir/ Heist Watch: The Asphalt Jungle (1950)



Watched:  06/03/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  7th?  Unknown
Decade:  1950s

I know I throw a lot of soft recommendations around, saying "oh, you might like this" or "it's worth catching", but The Asphalt Jungle (1950) was one of those hit-me-like-lightning movies the first time I watched it, and, in a lot of ways, I've been chasing that same high ever since.  That viewing was way back in college from a rented tape on a 20" TV, and I've seen and owned various copies of the film ever since.  Frankly, when I just looked up the movie on this blog, I assumed I'd written it up 3 or 4 times, but, instead, I'm just finding mentions of it tucked into other posts.  So, it's been a while.

In some ways, in 2019 there's little new in The Asphalt Jungle - the film is one of those that reset the path for heist movies and created the template from which heist movies would flow from then til now.  But for a movie popping up just a few years after World War II, and because of the influence, it feels shockingly modern (especially for modern TV more than movies, which are largely toothless in comparison these days).  It's 3/5ths getting to and getting through the heist, and 2/5ths things going wrong and the fallout as our ensemble tries to sort out the mess they're in.

Friday, May 17, 2019

PODCAST: "The Italian Job" (1969) w/ SimonUK and Ryan



Watched:  05/07/2019
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  Third
Decade:  1960's


SimonUK finally gets around to talking about one of his favorite films, a heist film about a scrappy team pulling off the impossible with cheer and good spirits. Honestly, it's mostly just a love fest for a movie both Simon and Ryan enjoy immensely.




Music:

Get a Bloomin' Move On/Self Preservation Society - Don Black/Quincy Jones, The Italian Job OST

The mentioned poster for The Italian Job that seems to have nothing to do with the film:



SimonUK Cinema Series:

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Noir-ish Watch: High Sierra (1941)



Watched:  03/21/2019
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Viewing:  at least fourth
Decade:  1940's

I've surely written this movie up before, but it's a great heist flick.  Maybe not Ashpalt Jungle good, but one for the pantheon.  And, it was a breakout movie for Bogart, hot on the heels of Petrified Forest.  And, of course, it broke Ida Lupino, which is a boon to us all.


Monday, December 3, 2018

Noir Watch: The Killing (1956)


Watched:  12/02/2018
Viewing:  Unknown.  6th?
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
Decade:  1950's

First of all, "The Killing" that occurs in this movie is not an assassination.  It could refer to about five or ten different things, and I suppose that's intentional.  I'd start with "they're gonna make a killing on this heist", but, of course, this is a 1950's-era heist movie, so you know it's not ending in sunshine and flowers.

The Killing (1956) sits on a curious edge when it comes to crime dramas/ noir.  Marking maverick, young filmmaker Stanley Kubrick's first foray into studio-backed cinema, the movie feels part and parcel of the noir movement with a structure and an ending not atypical for a dime-store crime novel, retaining those rough edges that some noir eschewed.  As much as I like The Asphalt Jungle and Rafifi - likely The Killing had more impact and reflects more of where the heist genre would go - especially in American cinema (at least marginally).

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Sunday, July 22, 2018

PODCAST! Bond Watch: Goldfinger (1964)



Watched:  07/21/2018
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Unknown - maybe 7th?
Decade:  1960's

It's a PODCAST!

(possibly NSFW) It's "Goldfinger", Ryan's favorite Bond movie. SimonUK is back to help Ryan sort out how much he can say Honor Blackman's character's name out loud whilst being recorded. Join us as we say a lot of nice things about this iconic/ seminal film in the Bond franchise, some of its oddities and how it is just super problematic in 2018.





Get your Signal Watch Podcast on the format of your choice!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Noir Watch: Crime Wave (1953)



Watched:  05/28/2018
Format:  Noir Alley on TCM - DVR
Viewing:  First
Decade 1950's

Sometimes casting can save the day for a fairly standard plot in a movie - it can be a real pleasure to see your favorite actors, character or otherwise, play out the parts in your boilerplate movie.  Other times that same old jazz standard gets a new look, a new interpretations and the execution is enough to make you stand up and applaud.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Noir Watch: Armored Car Robbery (1950)



Watched:  05/10/2018
Format:  Amazon Streaming
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1950's

It will surprise you that a movie entitled Armored Car Robbery (1950) is, indeed, about the robbery of an armored car and the fallout of that same robbery.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Texas Watch: Hell or High Water (2016)



If you've seen the trailer for this movie, and you think that maybe you have a rough idea of what this movie will be like - bingo.  You are correct.

Hell or High Water (2016) is currently nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, which is maybe the surest sign that the Academy is comprised of white people over the age of 65.  A post No Country for Old Men meditation on justice in the sun-baked desert plains of West Texas, it's an enjoyable enough way to spend the run-time of a movie.  But with no non-standard plot turns or character moments, a movie where the sub-text of the film is text, it's the sort of thing that's been done better elsewhere (see the movie named at the beginning of this sentence) and has characters walking a path of moral uncertainty enough that you can say it has some edge to it.

That said, I didn't actually dislike Hell or High Water.  It's a fine movie with characters you'll enjoy (I've seen these same characters done a few dozen times, and if you're going to do those characters, this is pretty good), a decent plot, and if you like Chris Pine (I do!) and Jeff Bridges (what sort of psychopath doesn't like Jeff Bridges?), I've got a movie I'd say you can watch comfortably with your dad.  Or, better yet, your sibling.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Yippee Kai Yay Watch: Die Hard (1988) - movie party at the Alamo



I've really embraced the idea that Die Hard (1988) is a Christmas movie.

In theory it takes place on Christmas Eve despite the fact the Nakatomi Corporation is having its holiday party on Christmas Eve, which...  What Dickensian rules is your company playing by?  And why is Holly leaving her kids at home with her poor nanny who probably has friends and family of her own she'd rather be with?

Friday, September 23, 2016

Parker Watch: The Split (1968)



I'd been wanting to see The Split (1968) for a while.  Based upon one of my favorite Parker novels, The Seventh, it also starred Jim Brown, pro-football superstar turned movie star (and a generally much better presence on the big screen than you generally get out of other former athletes*).  I wasn't aware of the pedigree of the cast for this movie which is all but forgotten.  But when you have a movie with Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland, Julie Harris, Jack Klugman, Warren Oates, Gene Hackman, Diahann Carroll... and people don't remember it?

Well, it's not a great sign.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Noir Watch: Criss Cross (1949)



I just remembered that I'd failed to write up a movie I watched last week, 1949's Criss Cross, starring Burt Lancaster, Yvonne DeCarlo and the always hiss-able Dan Duryea.

The movie seemed to be trying to recapture a bit of the magic of 1946's The Killers, also starring Lancaster, with Ava Gardner as the twisty (and, let's be honest, dangerously sexy) femme fatale.  That picture is surely one of the purest examples of what we think of when we think about noir.  In Criss Cross, once again Lancaster plays a fellow who can be led astray by a good looking brunette - not stumbling across a mobsters' girl this time, but coming home to Los Angeles, trying to tell himself it's not so he'll see his ex, Anna (the terrific Yvonne DeCarlo), but to settle in and lead a domestic life with his parents and brother.  Get his old job back.  But before he's even made it in the front door of the family house, he's back at his old haunt, seeing how things have changed.