Bank Shot

1974. Directed by Gower Champion.

THE SHOT: George C. Scott and his crew will not rob a bank, they will steal a bank. A bank is building a new location and has a temporary bank set up in a mobile home in a mall parking lot. Scott and Co. will jack up the trailer, put it on wheels and tow it away with the guards still in it.

TONE: Cartoonish, garish, abrasive. Gritty 70s realism passed this caper by. Lots of “zany characters.” One wears a straw boater and drives a 20s automobile. One lives with his crazy mother. One is a black radical named Herman X. Scott himself has a lisp for some reason. All these zany touches are announced but never developed.

Bob Balaban is in this, looking all of 16 years old. Close Encounters was three years off. I think he spent the time growing his beard.  Joanna Cassidy is also on hand, and is quite funny and refreshing, honestly the most watchable performance in the movie.

REALISM: None. Action is cartoonish and slapsticky. Police procedures make no sense.  This is the kind of movie where the protagonist is described as a “genius” and “the best bank-robber in history” but surrounds himself with drooling idiots and takes advice from clowns.

DOES CRIME PAY? No. The money (SPOILER ALERT) goes off a cliff and into the sea. Scott swims from Santa Monica to Samoa (that is not a misprint).
hit counter html code


9 Responses to “Bank Shot”
  1. craigjclark says:

    Sounds like one of the Films That Time Forgot on the Onion A.V. Club. If you want a ’70s comedy starring George C. Scott, you’re better off sticking with They Might Be Giants or The Hospital — or even Movie Movie.

  2. popebuck1 says:

    Donald Westlake just has NOT been served well by the movies. His Dortmunder series of novels is absolutely brilliant, but has produced just ONE watchable movie (“The Hot Rock” with Robert Redford, which was great thanks to a William Goldman script), and lots and lots of awful ones, the most recent being “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” with Martin Lawrence.

    Dortmunder deserves better – because, see, he really IS the most brilliant thief in the world, he just also has the worst LUCK in the world, including the luck that surrounds him with idiots and clowns.

    • craigjclark says:

      He had an early stroke of luck with Point Blank (when he was writing as Richard Stark), and his scripts for The Stepfather and The Grifters were models of efficiency that were well-served on their way to the screen. I just can’t believe Jimmy the Kid has been made into a movie twice (once with Gary Coleman and once in German — now if only they had combined their efforts).

      • popebuck1 says:

        I guess he’s had better luck than I thought – it’s just that the Dortmunders are my favorites, so they’re a sore point.

        His books are such great reads, and seem so “cinematic,” that it mystifies me why ALL of them haven’t already been made into wonderful movies. He’s like Elmore Leonard in that respect – before that mini-barrage of “Get Shorty,” “Jackie Brown,” and “Out of Sight,” it seemed that just plain no one in Hollywood “got” Elmore Leonard. And I guess they don’t “get” Westlake either, with those rare and beautiful exceptions you mention (largely the result of Westlake writing his own stuff).

      • greyaenigma says:

        Was ist das Sprechen, Villis?

    • Todd says:

      I read the novel of Bank Shot when I was a teenager, because The Hot Rock was my favorite movie of all time up to that point.

      The “genius surrounded by idiots” beat is bizarre. It was such a commonplace thirty, forty years ago, then it kind of went away. It reached its nadir/apotheosis with Superman, where Lex Luthor, self-described criminal mastermind, the smartest man in the world, has, as a crew, a popcicle-slurping moron (in a boater) and a moronic stripper. Now, it sets my teeth on edge. Then, I didn’t even notice it.

  3. urbaniak says:

    Gower Champion? The acclaimed Broadway musical director? Doing a crime movie? Is there singing?

    • craigjclark says:

      And he also directed the musical short Once Upon a Honeymoon, which was spoofed to hilarious effect on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

    • Todd says:

      It appears that Bank Shot was his last film, of the few he did. Looking at it, it doesn’t surprise me.

      What does surprise me is George C. Scott. He seems to have had a weakness for caper films (his Flim-Flam Man was a favorite of mine as a child) but also a weakness for utter crap.