The Heist Film

The Heist Film: Stealing with Style

DARYL LEE
Series: Short Cuts
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 144
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/lee-16969
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Heist Film
    Book Description:

    A concise introduction to the genre about that one last big score,The Heist Film: Stealing With Styletraces this crime thriller's development as both a dramatic and comic vehicle growing out of film noir (Criss Cross,The Killers,The Asphalt Jungle), mutating into sleek capers in the 1960s (Ocean's Eleven,Gambit,How to Steal a Million) and splashing across screens in the 2000s in remake after remake (The Thomas Crown Affair,The Italian Job,The Good Thief). Built around a series of case studies (Rififi,Bob le Flambeur,The Killing,The Lavender Hill Mob,The Getaway, theOcean'strilogy), this volume explores why directors of such varied backgrounds, from studio regulars (Siodmak, Crichton, Siegel, Walsh and Wise) to independents (Anderson, Fuller, Kubrick, Ritchie and Soderbergh), are so drawn to this popular genre.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-85058-2
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: THE HEIST AS GENRE
    (pp. 1-14)

    The heist film, or ‘big caper’ as it is sometimes called, is back on the marquee. The year 2001,annus mirabilis, saw the production of four major heists. Original titles from seasoned directors – Frank Oz’sThe Score, Barry Levinson’sBanditsand David Mamet’sHeist– were all successful, but the smash hit of the year was Steven Soderbergh’s star-studded reprise of the 1960 Rat Pack showcaseOcean’s Eleven(Lewis Milestone). The draw of Soderbergh’s remake came in part from its ensemble cast – George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Brad Pitt, Elliot Gould, Andy Garcia and Matt Damon among others –...

  5. 1 ORIGINS: THE NOIR HEIST
    (pp. 15-37)

    In their 1955Panorama of American Film NoirFrench film critics Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton declared the birth of a ‘neo-gangster’ film in the United States. Their exemplary titles were Jules Dassin’sBrute Force(1947), John Huston’sThe Asphalt Jungle, and Robert Siodmak’sThe KillersandCriss Cross(2002: 78). The French critics were attuned to the manner in which these films reworked the gangster genre, splintering the 1930s archetype into other forms. In hindsight, however, it is striking that three of the four ‘neo-gangster’ films named were heists. Indeed, critics and filmmakers alike generally take John Huston’s crime...

  6. 2 FOUNDATIONS: THE NOIR HEIST AND ITS SATIRE AS AESTHETIC PARABLES
    (pp. 38-71)

    In the 1950s the heist film came into its own. There were a spate of not-so-memorable works from this era, but in the hands of more deft directors, the genre began to express idiosyncratic concerns across dramatic and comic modes, as in Jacques Becker’s taut elegy to an ageing gangster,Touchez pas au grisbi(1954), or Alexander Mackendrick’s splendid farceThe Ladykillers. Moreover, the heist film hit two pivotal points that gave the genre a broader appeal to audiences: eliciting sympathy for the criminal gang and experimenting with widescreen and colour formats. In the first case, it was never inevitable...

  7. 3 CONVENTIONS: THE HEIST ADAPTS ITS MESSAGE
    (pp. 72-91)

    Whereas in the previous chapter I separated the modernist noir heist and its satire, in this chapter the two modes – dramatic and comic – reconverge as I map the heist between 1960 and 1980. The first decade was remarkable in terms of character and narrative variability, from social message films like the bleak, urban, race-consciousOdds Against Tomorrow(Robert Wise, 1959) to period pieces likeThe Day They Robbed the Bank of England(John Guillermin, 1960), and from true crime reconstructions (Robbery, Peter Yates, 1967) to comedies of high-society thieves (How to Steal a Million, William Wyler, 1966). Filmmakers...

  8. 4 RETURNS: PERPETUATING THE MYTH OF ORIGINALITY IN THE REMAKE
    (pp. 92-115)

    The heist film flagged across the 1980s, hinted at a comeback in the 1990s, and only reappeared with any kind of measurable regularity around 2000. Were we to look for attendant political or socio-economic factors that may have provided new terrain for the heist, the period 1980-2000 is bookended, on the national scene in the United States at least, by Jimmy Carter-era inflation and the tumultuous end of Bill Clinton’s second term. Meanwhile, Reagan- and Thatcher-era economic policies unleashed a heady form of capitalism that caused astonishing market fluctuations (for which international art markets, particularly for modernist works, provided a...

  9. SELECT FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 116-120)
  10. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 121-130)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 131-136)