The Best Diamond Heist Movies You’ve Never Seen

11 Harrowhouse (1974)

Chesser is an American diamond broker making his annual trip to London to buy overpriced stones from an elite diamond exchange, but the way things are going this will probably be his last visit. He’s robbed and soon finds himself roped into a massive heist to save his own neck, get back at some British twats, and make a fortune. The plan goes well, until it doesn’t.

This comic thriller from the UK is a steadily paced flick that doles out laughs and character beats en route to a fairly thrilling third act complete with a car chase involving horses and dogs. A sharp script keeps things moving throughout, and the cast is just icing on the cake as Charles Grodin (Seems Like Old Times) stars as the not-so-hapless broker, a sharply energetic Candice Bergen brings life to his highly capable girlfriend, and James Mason, Trevor Howard, and John Gielgud round out the players.

I’m not typically a fan of narration in films as I’d rather just see what’s happening and intone the characters’ thoughts through action, expression, and dialogue. This is especially the case with excessive narration, but this low-key caper is a rare exception for s single reason — Charles Grodin. He narrates like a sad puppy dog, and while the film’s funny elsewhere much of the humor comes from his sarcastic, “woe is me” voiceover observations. It kills some of the suspense to hear him talking in the past tense, but the film isn’t reliant on that side of things.

11 Harrowhouse is available to stream from Amazon and elsewhere.

Flawless (2007)

1960s London is a swinging place for international men of mystery, hip cats, and stylish mods, but it’s no great shakes for a woman trying to climb the corporate ladder at a diamond exchange. Frustrated by the lack of promotion, Laura Quinn takes up an equally disgruntled janitor named Hobbs on his plan to rob an unnoticed fortune in gems. The plan goes well, until it doesn’t.

There are far flashier movies about diamond heists from ones with high-tech gear to others featuring incredibly elaborate plans, but there’s something to appreciate about the confident simplicity of this British thriller. It’s told in flashback and moves from workplace drama to planning stage to heist and beyond, and that last bit is a stretch many of these films don’t bother touching. The investigation here is where the suspense kicks in as motivations and story turns are revealed, and it’s just a classy and finely crafted affair.

The other big draw here is the cast. Michael Caine is no stranger to movies about heists and thefts — The Italian Job (1969), Deadfall (1968), King of Thieves (2018) — and he brings gumption and authenticity to the old laborer here. Just as good, and far too often undervalued, is Demi Moore who does great work as the woman trapped beneath the glass ceiling. Her participation is fueled by a need for fairness, but it’s clear she’s not necessarily cut out for the criminal life as her nerves begin to frazzle when the walls close in. She balances the nervousness, though, with a determination built on integrity, and the result is a real sense of humanity as a backdrop to the suspense.

Flawless is available to stream from Amazon and elsewhere.

Sushi Girl (2012)

A man is released from prison for his role in a diamond heist years prior, and he’s soon summoned to a meeting with the other thieves. They’re happy he didn’t squeal to the police, but now they want the diamonds they believe he hid before his arrest. The plan goes well, until it doesn’t.

This tight and cruel little thriller was dismissed by many as being too “Tarantino-esque,” but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good time at the movies. The dialogue is mean-spirited and snappy, and the characters are a fun mix of over the top tough guys and almost comical caricatures. It hits some familiar beats as the crooks start to turn on each other, but there’s personality to spare as the story moves forward, hits some bumps, and delivers a solid and satisfying ending.

It’s a fun B-movie cast headlining the film too starting with Cortney Palm as the girl of the title. She’s not a known name, of course, but with a genre-heavy career including a fantastic turn in Zombeavers (2014) she deserves to be. (I’m not joking about Zombeavers.) Far more recognizable are Mark Hamill (Watchers 4, 1998) and Tony Todd (Shadow Builder, 1998) playing crooks with mean streaks, and familiar faces pop up in smaller roles too including Jeff Fahey (Body Parts, 1991), Michael Biehn (Cherry Falls, 2000), and Danny Trejo (Reindeer Games, 2000).

Sushi Girl is available to stream from Amazon and elsewhere.

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