Quick Change(1990); Howard Franklin and Bill Murray, director.

What happens when your bank robbery goes off without a hitch, but you just can’t lick the getaway? That’s the premise of Quick Change which posits the very defendable position that New York City’s Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is actually the roadway to hell.

Quick Change was one of the first indicators of where Bill Murray would take his screen career. Yes, this is still very high concept in a What About Bob? kind of way, but there’s a world-weariness in his character here that, in retrospect, is very telling. It’s also a very clever script, as you can tell by Geena Davis making a Thor Heyerdahl reference right there in the trailer.

The Lavender Hill Mob (1951); Charles Crichton, director.

As this British classic shows, there’s no reason not to be gentlemanly about theft.

Alec Guinness is the fussy bank clerk and Stanley Holloway the ingenious exporter of souvenir trinkets. The two join forces in an effort to smuggle gold masquerading as Eiffel Tower replicas. Scotland Yard is no match for them, but schoolgirl tourists are, and to hilarious effect.

The Lavender Hill Mob isn’t a gut-busting comedy, but its finely drawn characters and (no other way to say this) extreme Britishness make it a must-see.


Ossessione
(1943), Luchino Visconti, director.

Not all heists have to be against banks or casinos or involve blueprints. Sometimes it is a simple matter of strangling your lover’s husband and collecting his fortune.

Simple in deed, I should say, but not in moral complications, and that’s where Visconti’s Ossessione kicks into high gear. Based on James M. Cain’s novel The Postman Always Rings Twice (of which there are two terrific English-language films), this one doubles-down on the then vanguard “neo-realist” style, letting the brooding, and naturalistic setting speak for otherwise silent characters.

As such, this would make quite an entertaining double-feature with After the Fox.

The Brink’s Job (1978); William Friedkin director.

I figured the Peter Falk vehicle The In-Laws (1979) was too well known and I’ve already written about Harry and Walter Go To New York (1976). Therefore, we’re closing with this one.

The Brink’s Job is another heist set back-in-the-day with a host of colorful characters. In addition to Falk there’s Gena Rowlands, Paul Sorvino, Peter Boyle, Alan Garfield and Warren Oates. Think you don’t know they’re names go Google them. I’ll stay here as you shout “That Guy!”

The Brink’s Job has the added benefit of being a true story, with many of the Boston crooks actually consulting on the film. It’s a tough one to find on DVD, so, true to the story, I offer the first chunk of the movie in the above video embed. Find the rest yourself.

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