The Twenty Greatest Heist Films

July 20, 2016

I must have larceny in my heart, for I seem to have a real fondness for the heist film.  I have even been known to root for the bad guys to get away with it.  Maybe what the heist film does is provide a certain wish fulfillment for the audience; it’s a safe way to dabble at the darker side of our nature.  I mean, who hasn’t thought about an easy way to make a lot of money, or to get out from under a dire financial situation?  Well, these questions are what I believe make the heist film so appealing.  So, on that note, I give you “The Twenty Greatest Heist Films”.

In no particular order…

1.”The Killing”  1956  Stanley Kubrick.  Early Kubrick effort is a tightly structured look at a truly failed robbery.

2.”Quick Change”  1990  Bill Murray, Howard Franklin.  This is one of the more cheerful entries in the heist genre.

3.””The Asphalt Jungle”  1950  John Huston.  The most existential of all heist films-beautifully realized.

4.”Friends of Eddie Coyle”  1972  Peter Yates.  Working class characters give an authenticity to film.

5.”Dog Day Afternoon”  1975  Sidney Lumet.  Eccentric bank robbery makes the onlookers part of the circus.

6.”Inside Job”  2000  Spike Lee.  This tense, little heist film is full of surprises.

7.”The Anderson Tapes”  1972  Sidney Lumet.  Not a great film, but it makes an interesting comment on how we are all being watched.

8.”The Drop”  2014  Michael R. Roskam.  Gritty neighborhood heist film was penned with the nuances by the wonderful Dennis Lehane (Mystic River).

9.”The Man Who Wasn’t There”  2000  Coen Brothers.  Very unusual noir film shot in glorious black and white.

10.”Dead Presidents”  1995  Albert Hughes, Allen Hughes.  Insane heist film is perhaps too ambitious for what it delivers.

11.”Heat”  1995  Michael Mann.  Thought-provoking heist film that benefits from an excellent cast.

12.”Kansas City Confidential”  1952  Phil Karlson.  Kinda creepy heist film makes the robbers hauntingly anonymous.

13.”Point Break”  1991.  Kathryn Bigelow.  Unique spin on the genre,but too long for it’s own good.

14.”Criss Cross”  1949  Robert Siodmak.  Romantic fatalism skillfully served.

15.”Rififi”  1954  Jules Dassin.  This film has a wonderful twenty minute safe-cracking sequence.

16.”The Bling Ring”  2013  Sophia Coppola.  Sly, seductive offering by the talented offspring.

17.”The Maltese Falcon”  1941  John Huston.  The robbery of dreams?

18.”Resevoir Dogs”  1992  Quentin Tarantino.  Framed through a flashback, this amazing first feature still impresses.

19.”The Thomas Crown Affair”  1968  Norman Jewison.  White collar crime with a 60’s sensibility.

20.”The Town”  2010  Ben Affleck.  These neighborhood bank robbers still live in and rob from their old neighborhoods.

 

 

 

 

Twenty More Underrated Films

June 20, 2016

When I compiled the list of “The Twenty Greatest Underrated Films”,  I felt that I had left off a few good ones.  And, since I am a lover of the cinema, I decided to dig up a few more gems to include on “Twenty More Underrated Films”.

In no particular order…

  1. “Badlands” (1973)  Terrence Malick.  Malick’s first feature is filmed in a cold, detached manner to resemble the affect of the main characters.
  2. “Force of Evil” (1948)  Abraham Polonsky.  Just about everyone was blacklisted on this tale of capitalism and corruption.
  3. “The Shining” (1980)  Stanley Kubrick.  Many people were disappointed with this version of King’s novel, but I see it as a marital black comedy, complete with ghosts.
  4. “Murder at the Vanities” (1934)  Martin Leisen.  Pre-code murder mystery musical is a whole lotta fun and a little naughty, too.
  5. “Dante’s Inferno” (1935)  Harry Lachman.  Imaginative venture from MGM, featuring one amazing scene set in Hell.
  6. “Up the Down Staircase” (1967)  Robert Mulligan.  The best of all films about teaching.  It makes the public school system in a big city look like a battle zone.
  7. “The Landlord” (1970) Hal Ashby.  Ashby’s first feature is a freewheeling satire on race relations.  However, it does contain some moments of real insight.
  8. “If I Had a Million” (1932)  Ernest Lubitsch, Norman Z. McLeod, and others.  One of the best of all the anthology films.  I particularly like the W.C. Field’s sequence.
  9. “The Gypsy Moths” (1969) John Frankenheimer.  Existential to say the least.  Frankenheimer’s moody meditation on risktakers is subtle yet powerful.
  10. “Alice in Wonderland” (1933)  Norman Z. McLeod.  Unfairly neglected, this all star Paramount feature is surprisingly close in tone to the Lewis Carroll classic.
  11. “The Wind” (1928)  Victor Sjostrom.  The elements enhance the metaphor in this silent film masterwork.
  12. “King of the Ants” (2002) Stuart Gordon.  Skin-crawling tale of man’s ability to reduce himself to something less than human.
  13. “West of Zanzibar” (1929) Tod Browning.  Exotic, bizarre, and quite politically incorrect; one of the best Chaney/Browning collaborations.
  14. “It’s a Gift” (1934) Norman McLeod.  At 73 minutes, it’s uproarious; a real unsung gem of the genre.
  15. “Carnal Knowledge” (1971) Mike Nichols.  Jules Feiffer’s disturbing depiction f a generation of men who were afraid of women.
  16. “California Split” (1974)  Robert Altman.  Sobering account of two gamblers’ reckless weekend spree.
  17. “Death Becomes Her” (1992) Robert Zemeckis.  Uneven, but at times an eye-opening satire of narcissism taken to a whole new level.
  18. “Lilith” (1964) Robert Rossen.  Strange film which has gained a cult following over the years.
  19. “The Birds” (1963) Alfred Hitchcock.  Although it was popular with audiences in its day, it received mixed reviews.  This highly influential film belies its own facade to show a crumbling world.
  20. “The Candidate” (1972) Michael Ritchie.  This smart film leaves you feeling rather helpless towards the political process.