Take the Money and Run (1969) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • This film is presented as a documentary on the life of an incompetent, petty criminal called Virgil Starkwell. It describes the early childhood and youth of Virgil, his failure at a musical career, and his obsession with bank robberies. The film uses a voice over narrative and interviews with his family, friends and acquaintances.

  • Clumsy Virgil Starkwell was bullied when he was a child. Then he decides to play cello, but without any musical talent, the loser joins a street gang and ends up in prison. When he escapes, he meets laundry worker Louise and lies to her, telling that he plays cello in the symphonic orchestra. He is arrested in a hold up and Louise finds him in prison. He breaks out and flees with Louise to another state. He tries to be honest but he is incapable to fit in any job. When he finally finds a job position suitable for him, he is blackmailed by a colleague and returns to his criminal life. But his heists are disastrous and he always ends in prison.

  • The life of Virgil Starkwell, still a young man, is presented, that presentation partly through interviews with family and acquaintances. He has been in and out of prison since he was in his mid-twenties, primarily for armed robberies. His down and out life was largely predetermined having grown up in the slums of New York City, and never having fit in anywhere in society, being shunned if not bullied. His life of crime began as a means of survival since he was inept at everything else, which is not to say that he is also inept as a robber, hence the reason he has been caught so easily time after time. His life has the potential to change when he meets and falls in love with Louise, a laundress. Louise is also somewhat of an outsider in society, she having grown up in a dysfunctional household with a strict military father and alcoholic mother. As Virgil and Louise try to eke out a life together, the fact of Louise in his life will either make Virgil turn to a life of the straight and narrow, or conversely do anything required to support her.

  • A mock documentary which traces the criminal career of Virgil Starkwell from his childhood through his incarceration for bank robbery. Along the way we learn much about Virgil's childhood, his musical (and moral) education, and the vagaries of his relationships with women.

  • The life and times of Virgil Starkwell, inept bank robber.


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