Any ideas why the gang is rarely allowed to get the loot? Only in Ocean’s 11 (and 12), The Sting, Sneakers and The Hot Rock is there actually the giddy pleasure of actually getting away with the crime.

The reason it works in these movies is because the gang is stealing something from someone we hate.  Whether it’s Robert Shaw or Andy Garcia or Moses Gunn or Ben Kingsley, right up to the brand new Inside Man with Christopher Plummer, it must be a single man and he must be utterly hateable.  The rule seems to be, if the gang just stealing from some institution or some country or some bank or something, the gang must ultimately lose in the end.  Why is that?  Why can’t someone just rob a bank and get away with it?  Doesn’t that happen in real life?  Why must the criminals be punished, in movies of all shades and tones, stretching back 50 years now?  We keep wanting them to get away with it, why don’t the movies let them?

Yes, yes, I know that the money in the bank ultimately belongs to everybody, and you can’t support a crime against a society, but so what?  We’re not talking about real life, we’re talking about movies.  Can anyone think of a movie where they get away with the loot, and the only villains are the police who are trying to stop them?
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19 Responses to “THESE HEIST PICTURES”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Quick Change

    Bill Murray gets away with it.

    • Todd says:

      Re: Quick Change

      Haven’t seen it in years. Can you tell me what happens? I promise I won’t spoil it for anyone else.

      Also, is it a remake of something? The IMDb suggests that it is, but doesn’t say of what.

      • Anonymous says:

        Re: Quick Change

        SPOILERS: Brief, brief Overview. Bill Murray and pals rob bank in a very clever fashion, escaping from the bank without the police knowing they’re out. For the rest of the movie, they try to get the hell out of New York and fail miserably until they finally get on an airplane to some exotic locale.

        It’s a lot funnier then how I described it.
        I’m pretty certain it isn’t a remake.

  2. jackmenhorn says:

    America wouldn’t accept anyone less than Redford or Clooney/Sinatra commmiting the crime.

    Imagine if Val Kilmer got away with it. Bedlam.

    • craigjclark says:

      Ahh, but in the original Ocean’s 11, they very pointedly don’t get away with the money. That’s something they changed in the remake, probably because the filmmakers guessed that audiences wouldn’t want to see Clooney, Pitt, Damon, et al. all sad at the end of their movie.

      Also, I know this is stretching it a bit, but Brian De Palma’s Femme Fatale starts out as a kind of heist movie and — in the end — they get away with the crime.

      • Todd says:

        Brian De Palma’s Femme Fatale starts out as a kind of heist movie and — in the end — they get away with the crime.

        And look how well that did.

        • craigjclark says:

          I guess what I should have said was “Femme Fatale starts out as a kind of heist movie and — in the end — Rebecca Romijn-Stamos takes her clothes off a number of times.” And I realize now that it doesn’t fit the criteria you put forth because the only people after Rebecca are the two accomplices she double-crossed during the heist.

      • jackmenhorn says:

        I still think ‘Ol Blue Eyes wins out in the end, no matter what.

  3. popebuck1 says:

    John Cleese and Jamie Lee Curtis get away to Rio with the diamonds in A Fish Called Wanda.

    And Alec Guiness essentially does get away with the loot in The Lavender Hill Mob, though the kicker is that (SPOILER ALERT) he’s been narrating the whole story in flashback to the police who are arresting him in South America. Society must be preserved, and all that.

  4. sheherazahde says:

    Bandits (2001)

    Massive Spoiler

    I just saw this the other day.

    Most of the movie is spent trying to convince you that they aren’t going to get away with it. But they do.
    The ending is very unconventional both guys end up sharing the girl- really the final sceen is of them in Mexico with the girl holding hands with both of them. Happy Ending- the crooks get away with all the money and form a stable polygymous relationship.

  5. willowrrain says:

    Heist movies are also chase movies. If we feel the least bit of animosity toward the chased, the story is more satisfying if the chasers catch the chased.

  6. popebuck1 says:

    I just thought of another one, though it’s a stretch – “Rosalie Goes Shopping.” It’s not precisely a heist movie, but Marianne Sagebrecht plays an immigrant housewife who (all for the love of her family) conducts check-kiting and other scams against various banks and retail establishments, which become more and more elaborate (and higher-and-higher-paying) as the movie goes on.

    As she explains it to her befuddled confessor-priest near the end: if you steal $500 from the bank, that’s your problem – but if you steal $5 million from the bank, that becomes the bank’s problem.

    And not to spoil the ending, but as far as I can remember, she gets off scot-free.