Thursday, 31 March 2016

Thursday Movie Picks: Heist Movies

Don't forget to check out what Wandering Through the Shelves picked, the blog that started Thursday Movie Picks.

All my picks are or have been remade. My guess is that heist films are timeless and can easily be remade. But when films are remade across the pond, its 9 times out of 10 been bad. A suggestion is - just don't remake British classics in modern US. 

The Ladykillers
As much as I love the Coen brothers, they're remake is just not good and in no way a match for the towering brilliance of the Ealing Comedy original. The Ladykillers is absurd when you think about it but at the same time pure genius on all fronts. A literal band of misfit robbers plan to rob a security van at Kings Cross station, part of the play is an alibi in the form of Mrs Wilberforce, a kindly old lady who has a room to rent. The robbers pretend they are am amateur string quintet and 'practice' while making their plans. The robbery goes off without a hitch but it is the fallout afterwards that is trips them up as one by one their greed gets the better of them. A true original.

The Italian Job
Going with the car colours which happen to work for the UK and US. I've only ever seen the end of the original, which is rather annoying as it gives it all away, sort of. My Dad loves the original Italian job and thought this wasn't too bad. I can't even remember what they're stealing, why they were stealing or what was happening. Whatever, I only watched it because Edward Norton was in it. I recall this film came out near to the time when Jason Statham started to ruin his career and there was the car chase but thats it. 

Ocean's Eleven
This is a remake so slick I can't be angry with anything that happens in the film. Clooney, Pitt and Damon, now a power trio. The cast actually boasts some brilliant talent here as well as having Soderbergh directing. I confess I've never seen the original film and I really should see it as I love this one very much. I didn't like the franchise tha followed, those were unnecessary. A heist that takes a team of 11 to complete and isn't just about the money but for something more, with a very entertaining Vegas background and Don Cheadle trying his hardest to convince us he's cockney, what more could you want.


  1. Excellent choices! I like but don't love the original Ladykillers but agree that is miles better than that dreadful remake. The kind of genteel humor that makes the first isn't easily translated.

    We match on your second though it sounds like I'm a bigger fan of it than you. I've seen the Michael Caine original and while it wasn't bad it was missing a great deal of the style of the redo.

    Love this version of Oceans Eleven! Oceans Twelve stinks badly but while it wasn't up to the same level of the first Oceans Thirteen was somewhat of a return to form and I thought it was a decent enough flick. I've also seen the Rat Pack original which had that germ of a great idea and terrible execution. It's obvious watching it that Frank, Dean, et al were in it strictly for the cash. Those are precisely the kind of old films, possessing a good unrealized idea, that should be remade and leave the classics alone. They got them right the first time.

    I'm a big heist film fan and I think there is something in them that is timeless which allows remakes to be easily made. These are the ones I came up with for the week.

    The Italian Job (2003)-Sleek adventure of a pair of heists, betrayal and revenge among a group of thieves most of whom are honorable in their way. Beautiful locations, a jaunty tone and sprightly performances by the entire cast filled with familiar faces make this a cut above. Everybody’s good but Seth Green and Mos Def stand out.

    Dog Day Afternoon (1975)-On a hot summer day in Brooklyn what starts as a poorly planned bank heist quickly devolves into both a hostage situation and a media circus when it becomes a police standoff. Brilliant Sidney Lumet directed film features three award caliber performances at its core from Al Pacino, Charles Durning and John Cazale.

    5 Against the House (1955)-Two college buddies Ronnie and Roy are pulled in briefly in connection with the attempted robbery of a Reno casino in which they had no part. Waiting to be released Ronnie overhears one of the cops say the casino can’t be successfully robbed and becomes obsessed with figuring out how to plan the perfect heist. Initially just an intellectual challenge until one of their other buddies, violent war vet Brick, discovers the plan and forces them to proceed involving the unsuspecting Al (Guy Madison) and his girlfriend, nightclub-singer Kaye (Kim Novak) along the way. Decent heist film that is rare among 50’s film in its allusions to Brick’s war experience (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) being at the root of his erratic behavior.

    Honorable Mention-The Asphalt Jungle (1950)-Ex-con Dix (Sterling Hayden) plans to steal a cool million in jewels. He gathers a team of small-time crooks together to pull the job, which is a success until a stray bullet kills one of the men. As they scramble to cover themselves the men become entangled in a web of treachery and murder. John Huston keeps the tension tight in this landmark noir that provided the first real step forward for Marilyn Monroe in the small part of Angela, one of the men’s kept woman.

  2. I love the Ocean Movies! I think some are better than others but I get a laugh out of all of them. I kinda consider "Ant-Man" a heist movie too and really love that one!

  3. Great picks! I so need to see the original versions of The Ladykillers and The Italian Job. Love Ocean's Eleven.

  4. Thanks! Definitely watch those originals :)

  5. I agree Ant Man is a heist film - I would have picked that but I'm saving it for another Thursday :)

  6. I'm very intrigued by The Asphalt Jungle - I've seen this film come up plenty of times when reading or exploring the internet, it might be the John Huston factor.

    Hahahaha we definitely don't agree about the 2003 Italian Job. I thought Edward Norton was the only good thing in it, but I love that guy so I'm biast.

    Oceans Thirteen was better but I felt it a tad over the top. The style was there but the substance silly. Plus Matt Damon's fake nose got in the way. But I love Ocean's Eleven, can't be beat. I do want to see the original as I'm guessing that has a whole different style of its own.

  7. Birgit Bedesky3 April 2016 at 22:27

    Excellent picks. Got here late. I saw The Italian Job a lot this week and it is a guilty pleasure of mine. Ocean's 11 is also great but The Lady Killers is one film I have not seen yet. Must rectify this

  8. I've only seen parts of the bottom two movies. I might try Ocean's Eleven again but The Italian Job, of what I've seen, was quite boring.

  9. You must :) The Ladykillers is a great classic which I'm sure you will enjoy.

  10. I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks this about The Italian Job - as I mentioned I can't even remember what happened.