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It's taken me a while to track down a copy of 'The Anderson Tapes', but I'm sure glad I did. I was knocked out by this consistently interesting caper movie. Sean Connery, post-Bond, pre-Zardoz, plays Duke Anderson, a recently released criminal who decides to rob the luxury apartment block his high class hooker girlfriend (Dyan Cannon) resides in. He assembles a team which includes "The Kid" (an unbelievably young and cool Christopher Walken in his first major movie role), his flamboyant art loving buddy Tommy ('Psycho's Martin Balsam camping it up outrageously), the super cool Everson (Garrett Morris), and (against his will) Mafia goon Socks (Val Avery). Duke however doesn't realize that he, and just about everyone else involved in the plan, are under surveillance by a multitude of government agencies who are following their every move. 'The Anderson Tapes' is an entertaining and tough little thriller full of humour and originality, and with an almost 'Conversation'-like feel to it - a movie it predated by three years incidentally. While nowhere near as well known as Sidney Lumet's other Seventies crime dramas 'Serpico' and 'Dog Day Afternoon' it is equally as good. An extremely underrated movie that deserves a lot more attention.
Sean Connery plays a jail bird who's let out and decides to pull
another heist with the help of a team of experienced crooks; little
does he know the cops are monitoring everything.
What's so unique about this film by Sidney Lumet, in superb form as director, is that heist films rarely mount the tension by showing us the cops' side -- here it's like a ticking time bomb, we're just waiting for Connery and his crew to be arrested and we know that they don't know that the cops know (err...) and the result is pretty tense.
No fault found in the acting: Connery and a very young Christopher Walken (in his film debut) are great, particularly Walken who shows extensive range very early on. After seeing this I was reminded of his recent role in the "Stepford Wives" remake and had to wonder why he's resorting to such trash, because he's just as talented (almost, anyway) as De Niro and Pacino and the difference is he wasted a lot of this during the '80s and '90s by taking on small bits in horrible films. I mean, in 2003 he starred in KANGAROO JACK. C'mon!
Overall THE ANDERSON TAPES is a tense and unique crime thriller that, although very "70s-ish" is entertaining, if a bit outdated in terms of technology. I'm sure it will be remade some day, there's a lot of potential, however I doubt it'll ever come close to the original.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Forget about the tapes and the surveillance business, they are not the main
issue here. At best they are used as a smoke screen to hide the real purpose
of this movie: To show us what extents human stupidity can
For Sidney Lumet this must have been the dress rehearsal for the more famous Dog Day Afternoon. Most of it is shot in a realistic style. But there is more to it, the absurdity of it all is pushed much further and converts realism into surrealism. This is the story of Anderson, a guy who gets out of prison after having served a long spell behind bars. Before he leaves he makes a short speech in which he declaims his philosophy. The essence of it: Everybody steals and therefore everybody has a right to steal. He steps into freedom, gets directly to his former lover's elegant apartment house off Central Park, looks around a bit and instantly makes the big decision concerning his future life: He will burglarise all apartments in this house in one big sweep and live on what the fence will pay him for the loot for the rest of his life.
Anderson seems to be a direct descendant of the Coen Brother's Ed Crane in The Man Who Wasn't There. And Sean Connery gives a performance as convincing as Billy Bob Thornton. Anderson made a decision - period. He will bear all the consequences, however bloody they will get. And, funny enough, there are people who think the idiotic scheme might be a success. Anderson has authority and leader qualities; he gets financial backing from an oddball son of a big time mobster and can form a team of more oddballs for the burglary (including a very young Christopher Walken). So eventually Anderson drives up to the apartment house with a huge removal truck (remember: this is not filmed in the style of a comedy!).
I do not want to give away the whole story. Only this much: The viewer sees people on both sides of the law engaged in heavy duty physical exertion. You can laugh and at the same time feel sorry for the poor fellows. The whole enterprise ends in utter disaster for the burglars. Towards the end of the story there is much police present on the street around the apartment house. You can observe ambulance personnel relaxedly unfolding bed linen for their stretchers in front of the Guggenheim. Then some of the gangsters try to make a getaway in a car. The engine roars and the car crashes and overturns after a few yards. This is all filmed very undramatically from a distance, in a matter of fact way, without musical soundtrack. It could almost be a documentary.
The low key style of the movie heightens the absurdity of the story, strengthens the message and make The Anderson Tapes a memorable experience. There is a very good electronic musical score by Quincy Jones which to my ears still sounds modern, funky and futuristic.
Beautifully made caper film by one of the best in his prime, Sydney Lumet.
The pacing and balance may be the true art of the film. Premise is a bit far
fetched: recently released con (Sean Connery) plans extravagant heist of
entire Manhattan apartment building using mob financing. The hitch is that
most everywhere he goes during his planning, electronic surveillance follows
from varied and sundry sources.
A young Chris Walken heads a superb support group including Dyan Cannon. Martin Balsam is absolutely spectacular as the femme antique dealer.
Slightly dated, but never tired, the story progresses like a time bomb countdown.
Often imitated, rarely duplicated.
... Gave THE ANDERSON TAPES a bad write up . Seriously this was a very
well regarded heist movie when it was released but for some reason when
it was broadcast very late on Channel 4 the other night all the TV
guides said Sean Connery was wasting his time appearing in this turkey
. I know Connery has appeared in more turkeys than reusuable stuffing
but THE ANDERSON TAPES isn't one of them . It might not be classic
Connery like THE HILL but as entertainment it more than succeeds
I can't help thinking that the TV guide critics are somewhat underwhelmed by certain stereotypical aspects of the movie . Take for example the getaway driver who is black . There seems to have been an attitude in the early 70s that white men can't drive , see also DIRTY HARRY . But I think it's homosexuality rather than race that upsets some TV guide critics . Oh come on chaps , it's a fun thriller not some Derek Jarman art house ego trip and lines like :
" Describe him ? Fifty . Slightly podgy . Fag "
" Do as your told and my man will keep his weapon in his pants "
" I'll be the judge of that "
are actually amusing in a mainstream way . It might be politically correct to laugh at these things nowadays but at the time of the original caused a wry smile .
And we get to see a very early performance by Christopher Walken before he became known as " Dead Career Ham Walken "
The Anderson Tapes occupies a great place in the career of Sean
Connery, it is one of the films he likes best in his career. And with
good reason, it was the first film for which he both drew good reviews
and clicked with the public not playing James Bond. Connery could
finally be taken seriously as an actor, not just an international sex
The film itself draws from elements found in The Asphalt Jungle and The Desperate Hours. There's no planner character in this film, Connery himself is both the planner and enforcer in the crew he's put together for a job. But he does need a backer and that's where organized crime boss Alan King comes in.
Connery is a Duke Anderson, a con just recently released from prison and he's got some attitudes similar to that other Connery character from Family Business has Jesse McMullen. Not surprising since both films were directed by Sidney Lumet. Like McMullen he feels that stealing is the most honorable profession going if you're not a hypocrite since all successful people engage in some kind of crookedness. And since he's done the full ten year bit with no parole and no strings attached to him, there isn't anything that the criminal justice system can do to him.
When he sees how well former girl friend Dyan Cannon is doing as someone's kept woman in a very ritzy apartment on New York's Upper East Side, Connery conceives a plan to take down the whole building. And bit by bit he assembles his crew.
Young Christopher Walken gets his first big screen role of notice as a young convict released with Connery from the joint. Another con released at the same time is Stan Gottlieb who's spent most of his life in stir and is thoroughly institutionalized. With his character, Lumet makes a powerful statement about institutional acclamation, in Gottlieb's case, it's an act of cruelty almost to let him out in society, he knows no other way of life.
Since there's a lot of merchandise to move from these rich folk's apartments, Connery needs someone along who knows the value and how to get the best value when fencing. Martin Balsam who's an antique dealer and fence on the side gets brought in on the job itself. Balsam has one of the earliest post Stonewall portrayals of a gay man and while sadly he does conform to stereotype, still it's a fine piece of work. And he's crushing out on Connery big time.
Alan King makes an unusual condition on Connery. He wants the crew to take along mob hood Val Avery on the job and arrange for his demise on same. Avery is something of a loose cannon, the powers that be want him eliminated without their fingerprints on it. When Avery arrives you can see why he's such a liability. He's an out and out racist and drivers Garrett Morris and Dick Williams would gladly do it for nothing.
Connery and his crew take the entire exclusive apartment building hostage, just like the family in The Desperate Hours. And the film itself has an Asphalt Jungle feel to it, both in the planning stage and in how it all turns out.
The title comes from the fact that several government agencies are actually taping this whole proceeding from many different angles, the FBI, the IRS, Immigration, etc. But since it's all quite illegal, none of them can really step in to put a halt to the criminal enterprise. It's a nice touch, but quite superfluous, the film works beautifully as a straight out caper film.
Sean Connery and the rest of the cast play this thing to perfection. Two of the best performances are from a pair of little old ladies, the shocked Margaret Hamilton and feisty Judith Lowry who just loves being taken hostage and robbed, it's the most excitement she's had in years.
As for Connery he could finally put James Bond to rest, after just one more film. His next role, 007 in Diamonds Are Forever.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is a reason that the title is "The Anderson Tapes." Some of the
reviews that I read here on IMDB seem to miss the point. Spoiler coming
SPOILER ALERT!!!!! It's irony. Throughout the movie, there are all of these government and even private agencies and people recording and taking pictures of Anderson's entire plot. They have his confessions, his helpers, the location, etc. But none of the agencies are working together. So, they have all of this dope on him and they aren't even interested in him. However, as we watch we KNOW that they are nailing his coffin and that at some point, he is going down hard and right back to a prison cell. The beauty of the tapes is that in the end, because Anderson goes through with this elaborate robbery, all of the agencies have to erase these tapes, flushing all of the evidence against Anderson that would sink him big time. In the end, therefore, all of Anderson's helpers are dead and he's the only one who gets to tell a story. He wore a mask during the caper, so in order to convict him of doing anything, the law is going to have a difficult time. If only they had all of those tapes, videos, and pictures! A twist is that there still seem to be tapes made by Dyan's boyfriend, but he already said that he doesn't care if Anderson robs the joint. But the cops saw the recorded and listened via it to hear Anderson panting in the room. But they have no idea that Anderson was living there or that the boyfriend has tapes of the entire caper planning by Anderson. So, the cops miss these tapes too. There's more to it than this, but that's a start.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"The Anderson Tapes", directed by Sidney Lumet, showed up recently on
cable. Having read the Lawrence Sanders novel years ago, we basically
didn't have a clear recollection of the action. As adapted by Frank
Pierson, the film shows Mr. Lumet at what he does best. Totally filmed
in New York, it offers a glimpse at the way the city looked during
The only thing that doesn't seem to work with the film is the way the electronic surveillance shows what Duke Anderson and the crew he puts together were about to do, at all times. Why the eavesdropping is going on all the time is only explained at the end of the film, something that doesn't make much sense because the ones doing the spying are completely aware of what Anderson is going to attempt all along the movie.
Sean Connery makes a wonderful Duke Anderson. He works well under Mr. Lumet's direction; he keeps the film going as the man with the plan for a caper that will help him retire from the business of being a thief. Dyan Cannon plays Mr. Connery's affections. She is the one who is the key for the gang to access the posh building. Christopher Walken made his film debut and it's hard to recognize him when he first appears. Martin Balsam, Ralph Meeker ant the rest of the cast made valuable contributions to the film.
Veteran director Sidney Lumet has made many above-average films in his time, but 'The Anderson Tapes', a generic heist thriller from the early 1970s, is not one of them. The dialogue and acting (including that of lead Sean Connery) are both poor, and the Quincey Jones score is horrid; the camera work is better but insufficient to compensate for a movie where none of the characters seem wholly real (in a way quite typical of indifferent movies from this era). Another problem is that the film lacks purpose; the tapes of the title seem quite irrelevant, and although the confused ending is in some sense superior to the glossy "perfection" at the conclusion of movies like "Ocean's Eleven", the viewer is still left asking "so what?". Overall, this not an awful film, but it is lacking in much to distinguish it from the very large number of similar movies.
I saw this movie when it first came out and I was enthralled! Sean Connery, Dyan Cannon, come on! I was 16 and It had everything a teen could want. The plot was excellent and well executed. I thought that the casting was outstanding and Martin Balsam out did himself as the gay appraisal expert, really camping it up and almost over the top. It was the first role I saw Garrett Morris in and he did not disappoint. I loved the sympathetic older ex-con, Pop, who just did not have the heart to go on with life. I could go on and on, believe me! Quincy Jones did an admirable job on the sound track of course, and the direction and pace was outstanding. I have since became a big fan of Sidney Lumet films and see them every chance I get. Christopher Walken was just breaking in his chops but gave a solid performance. I have to say the movie holds up just as well now as it did all of those years ago in the theater.
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