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Okay okay, Westlake's novels are always much better than the respective
movies (take for example "What's the Worst that Could Happen"), but I
must admit that director Peter Yates did a really good job. Dortmunder
(the author was inspired to this name by the German beer!) is not much
like Donald Westlake's original in the Dortmunder books, along with
some of the other characters. Redford is too handsome. George C. Scott
in "Bank Shot" was much more Dortmunderish (Westlake's master-crook
John Archibald Dortmunder is worn down and pessimistic), but in the
"Hot Rock" movie Yates catches the 'Zeitgeist', or spirit of the times.
And that's enough.
Brilliant: Quincy Jones' soundtrack (with Gerry Mulligan playing the sax).
When I first was planning to see the movie I didn't know what to expect. Although I knew one thing about it from the get go. Robert Redford is really good so this movie should at least be decent. I've never been one for action movies. Mostly for the reason that most of them don't have much of a plot and characters aren't usually well developed. This movie was full of action and they showed the characters pretty well. It had some funny moments and It was at least a good source of entertainment for the afternoon. It was entertaining until the end and was a classic movie about theft. I enjoyed it throughly and suggest it to anyone who enjoys some action in movies and wants a movie with some laughs.(Now don't mistake this as a comedy.)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This has many of the same ingredients of other heist films such as a
rare diamond in a museum and the assorted characters needed to steal it
but it's also unique in the way that they lose it and attempt to get it
back. Story starts out with John Dortmunder (Robert Redford) getting
released from prison and running into his brother in-law Andrew (George
Segal) who tells him about the diamond "Sahara Stone" that's on exhibit
at the Brooklyn Museum. An African ambassador named Dr. Amusa (Moses
Gunn) wants to hire them to steal the diamond for him so that he can
return it to it's rightful country but John warns him that this will be
*****SPOILER ALERT***** John and Andrew also hire Alan (Paul Sand) who's good with explosives and Stan (Ron Leibman) who can drive anything from a truck to a helicopter and together they manage to get into the museum but things go wrong and Alan is forced to swallow the diamond before he is arrested. They must now attempt to break him out of jail and they succeed but he tells them that he doesn't have the rock anymore which leads to the four of them in a wild hunt across New York City and ends with Alan's father Abe (Zero Mostel) hiding it in a safety deposit box in a bank.
This film is directed by Peter Yates (Bullitt) who during his career specialized in movies about unique characters such as police officers and thieves and had a knack to do it with a careful comedic touch. This is far from Yates best film but it's still indelibly his with rich characterizations and great scenic shots of New York City and in the helicopter scene there is a wonderful shot of the Twin Towers under construction. While the film is lightweight in nature it still has a script that is consistently humorous with the helicopter flight and the raid into the police precinct arguably being the highlight. Even though this film is over 30 years old (and God knows we have all seen our share of heist flicks) this somehow still remains a fun film to view with most of it's freshness still intact.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
**** MILD SPOILERS ****
This is a heist movie with a difference . You know how every heist movie is runs with a the set up followed by the job itself followed by a double cross followed by the end credits ? Well things are different hear because after the heist on of the thieves is arrested along with his booty so things start off bad for the lovable bad guys and continue to get worse
THE HOT ROCK is not a bad movie . I remember many years ago seeing a movie where a police station is attacked and discovered that this is the movie I remembered but there is one aspect to the movie that I didn't notice at the time and that is the acting . Some people here have described the cast as " muted " while others have described them as " miscast " . It is very noticeable that the actors seem somewhat disinterested in their parts . Watch the scene where the precinct is attacked and the cop in charge states there's a revolution going on with all the anger of someone blandly reading a shopping list . Since this type of acting is very much uniform throughout the film I would blame director Peter Yates more than anyone else
There also seems to be a few more niggling flaws to Yates direction with the biggest one involving a need for information that involves an execution of someone being thrown down an elevator shaft . When the witness sees this happening they start singing like a canary then it's revealed that it was all a set up and the " victim " is holding onto a cable . So lets see you throw someone down an elevator shaft head first and they're able to grab onto an elevator cable . Credible ? I don't think so either and its these directorial flaws that stop THE HOT ROCK from getting more than a six out of ten
Delicious caper comedy gets by thanks to a witty, clever story, sharp
pacing, and superb acting. Scripted by William Goldman, based on the
novel by Donald E. Westlake, it stars Robert Redford as Dortmunder, a
career criminal just getting out of prison who's immediately persuaded
by his cheerful brother-in-law Kelp (George Segal) to participate in a
job. The task is to steal a rare, very large diamond for Dr. Amusa
(Moses Gunn), an official representing a fictional African country who
insists that the gem belongs to his people.
The hook of Westlakes' tale is that nothing seems to go right for our museum robbing "heroes". One frustrating thing after another happens, and the diamond thieves are obliged to, among other things, stage a raid on a police station!
Redford is aces as Dortmunder, who tries to keep his head up in the face of so much chaos, swearing that he won't let this job get the better of him. He, Segal, Ron Leibman as Murch, and Paul Sand as Greenberg make for a pretty fun team. The rock solid supporting cast also features William Redfield, Charlotte Rae, Graham Jarvis, Harry Bellaver, and Lee Wallace. While everybody does fine work, the film just gets even better with the introduction of the legendary Zero Mostel as a wily attorney who just so happens to be Greenbergs' father.
It's very entertaining to watch as our four main characters try to deal with each problem as it comes up. The script is very funny, and while there's not a lot in the way of action, it's decently executed. Nice use of locations, too, and a nice music score composed by Quincy Jones, who persuaded 20th Century Fox to make note of the individual musicians on the soundtrack.
Followed by "Bank Shot", with George C. Scott in the Dortmunder role.
Eight out of 10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A cast of seasoned professionals. Directed by Peter Yates, who gave us
classics like "Robbery" and "Bullet". Screenplay by William Goldman,
who gave us "Butch Cassidy" and "Marathon Man." Even the musical score:
Ray Brown, Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, Frank Rosolino, and Bud Shank.
Yet, you put all the elements together and it's only mildly involving. It has its amusing moments but the suspense involved in pursuing a valuable gem through New York City seems to be dragged out. The gang steal it from the Brooklyn Museum. The guy who gets caught has swallowed it. "When did it next appear?" asks their employer, Moses Gunn, in his most dramatic and earnest baritone.
It next appeared in a police station and the gang must bust into the station with diverting explosions in the streets. But it's not where it had been hidden. Then it gets complicated as Zero Mostel, as the father of one of the gang, is drawn into the affair and decides to steal the gem and be paid for it all alone. The hell with his son and his son's partners.
Redford has never looked more handsome. Many people have remarked on how much he resembles me since he copied my careless-looking hair style. Some people of low taste have hinted that he may even be more handsome than I. Really, I don't mind his being so good looking. I hold no enmity towards him for it, except that I wish his face would melt.
Redford is the lead and, unfortunately, his acting style is minimalist. He conveys an awful lot of information with a slight widening of his eyes or the mere hint of a frown. That's not what the role calls for. It's not what this silly movie calls for either. It needs a more expressive, less white bread actor like Robert De Niro, who handles comedy very well.
The wisecracks aren't very witty. Some of the acting is overreach. And the gags that should make us laugh out loud -- landing a helicopter on the wrong roof -- don't shoot out the lights. For whatever reason, probably the finest moment in the film is its resolution, a tense scene in which Redford, with the aid of hypnosis, insinuates himself into a bank's vault, retrieves the errant gem from a safe deposit box, and tries to walk slowly, inconspicuously, upstairs, through the bank's lobby, and out its revolving door.
He succeeds only seconds before the arrival of Zero Mostel and a bodyguard. As Redford paces along the sidewalk, still deliberately, he realizes that he's finally gotten the prize. The viewer is as relieved and cheerful as Redford, as his pace picks up, he breaks into a smile, and begins to lope through traffic. At this point, the band, which has hitherto been a succession of burps, chirps, and inquisitive whistles, builds into a cheerful Dixieland melody. The end really is a delight.
The hot rock is a stone that was inherited by many generations in
Africa according to a African doctor, (Moses Gunn). However, it's
effect is something else. The stone is located inside a measure on
display inside a rectangular shaped glass structure. It hasn't been
touched ever since. Well... until now.
Taking place in New York City, The Hot Rock is a caper comedy directed by Peter Yates. This was Yates' latest film since his biggest success in Bullitt, which was released 4 years ago. The problem is that Bullitt is a serious crime thriller that took place in San Francisco and dealt with very well detailed characters. The police matter in that was so pure and interesting that at least the viewer had to admired what was on the big screen. The Hot Rock, on the other hand, is perhaps the most unlikely film to be directed by Yates. The story is based on a book written by Donald Westlake, who specializes in writing about the latest adventures of a thief called Dortmunder.
Dortmunder, (Robert Redford), is released from jail and is told by his partner in crime, (George Segal), that an rare African stone is located inside a museum in Manhattan. Knowing this information, Dortmunder refuses to go along with the plan. So, he ensembles a crack team including an loudmouth, (Ron Leibman), an honest criminal, (Paul Sand), who's father, (Zero Mostel), is a lawyer. After the heist goes wrong and one of Redford's guys goes to prison, they realized that the stone was taken by Sand's character who swallowed it. The rest of the movie follows the crack team as they tries to retrieve the diamond so that they can get on with their lives. There's a lot of things that goes wrong while trying to get this tricky gem. First, the boys tries to retrieve it by opening up the sewer line in the jailhouse. Then, Redford threatens to kill Sand if he doesn't tell where the rock is.
All of this is pretty repetitive, but what interests me the most is the way the movie uses its charm to cut through the repeating story. Yes, this is perhaps way different than Yates' other movie Robbery, which was taken seriously. I suppose he is trying to make a effort to break into the comedy genre while still trying to tell a story that involves crime. It does work in this movie, but I still think the performances by Redford and his crew are somehow jaded. It's seems as if these actors are waiting around to get the stone back without having to break out of character.
Of course, there are some funny bits in this movie. My favorite is when Redford threatens to kill Sand and his father by throwing them both down an elevator shaft. You should see the look on Mostel's face when he said that he doesn't have the stone. Out of everything that works in this comedy caper, this scene works completely on its own.
The movie does have other humorous scenes involving Segal trying to steal the gem while Redford and Sand try their very best to hold up the heavy glass casing, trapping Segal inside the display case. That scene looks like it was borrowed from some of the famous 1920's silent comedies. But, the question is, does it worked? Yes, it does. It's rare that The Hot Rock wasn't a big success as Bullitt because maybe the comedy just didn't flow well into the crime matter of the story. The flow does work in this hilarious film and I'll tell you that it would be a whole lot more funnier if they put in more funny bits. That would something else. ★★★ 3 stars.
The Hot Rock is Peter Yates' goofy, likable crime comedy about some
goofy, likable crooks all of them, in that small gang they forge,
going through their own respective Hell in trying apprehend a diamond
they've been employed to steal. The film works because of Yates'
ability to keep things moving at the tremendous pace that he does, the
film effectively a series of causality driven set pieces leading from
one to the other as these guys try to come into possession of the
Macguffin, of which each are as funny and as involving and as creative
enough to make the film worth one's while. The text began life as a
straight up heist novel; a leaner, meaner piece as penned by Donald
Westlake sometime in the late 1960s to add to his already increasing
canon of Parker (later Walker, then Porter, under various filmic
guises) books that had been published. Yates plays it as a straight up
caper comedy, without any slow; gradual; misplaced realisation that
it's going to get nastier as things progress - it is very much the sort
of film in which the lead crook is robbed of his watch, at knife-point,
outside of a police station and in a very specific way that just makes
it quite funny without necessarily being overly nasty.
That lead crook is a certain John Dortmunder, played by Robert Redford in a role that predates The Sting by about a year; a man out on the streets after yet another prison stretch who is eyed within minutes of his release by his equally criminally minded brother-in-law Andy Kelp (Segal). The two men share an odd relationship; Kelp is this pink shirt wearing, rather highly-pitched voiced man whom takes a slap in the face from Dortmunder but humorously chases him down anyway via his car and pins him into a location so as to speak to him. Kelp is bringing Dortmunder into an operation organised by an African United Nations representative named Amusa (Gunn), a man who wants them to steal that of a diamond; the titular hot rock; a diamond which belonged to his forefathers but was stolen from them and that has since been thrust up into the air in terms of ownership, shifting possession from tribe to tribe and colonial master to colonial master like a free addition of a daily newspaper on a mainline. Presently, the diamond is there for the taking whilst inside of an exhibition at a New York museum.
Amusa, despite being the man of distinction that he is, rejects the more modern; more regimented notions of paperwork and the courts to decide who's "tribe" or "side" the rightful owner of this jewel is, and has turned to a more old fashioned labour of theft and crime to take what he wants. Brought in, after Dortmunder reluctantly accepts the proposal, is a demolitions expert named Greenberg (Sand) and that of Murch (Leibman), a petrol-head if ever there was one, whose base of operation is right beside that of a highway featuring numerous lanes in each direction and whose recordings of car engines filling the room of his garage plays to him like beautiful music would to us. Schemes are cooked up and plans go awry; we marvel at the manner in which these people, clearly gifted in that art of thinking and deducing if it means swiping something that isn't theirs, concoct such audacious ideas, that come across as fail-proof before being put into action, only to unravel at their very seams in what is writing that takes time to build an idea before gleefully knocking back down again with escalated creativity.
The film has a distinct charm to its proceedings, whether it's because of the fact we're asked to assume that a bunch of security guards can be fooled into thinking the bandits are trapped the other side of a door marked 'exit', or something else, remains somewhat elusive. The allure is in the processes the four leads go through; the wit and interplay they share between them, but always the creativity behind the concocting of audacious stunts to try and swing the tide back to their favour. Where immense pleasure is derived from the creativity therein of the writing of these people and their ideas they cook up, there is that masochistic ring to proceedings when it becomes prominent those in charge of such stamps of creativity are taking more pleasure in laying out the proverbial trail of elastic to trip these guys up than they are enjoying them get away with an ingenious idea. Never do we feel that these people are of the really hardened criminally minded sort, a notion the film plays with when, during one instance, the guys must act as exactly this in order to fool someone into thinking their life's in danger; the scene is played with a blind goofiness that keeps everything in check, these people are consistent to their behaviour and Yates to the tone of the film, but the piece is about a group of men going through some thoroughly inconsistent times, and our pleasures derived from watching them react to that is the point.
Crooks steal a precious gem from a museum, but complications arise. It appears the filmmakers thought they were making something clever and funny, but the end product is rather anemic. The heist scene is very routine. Subsequent acquisitions of a big rig and a helicopter receive big buildups, suggesting some clever usage of the vehicles, but nothing happens. In fact, about five minutes of screen time is spent on the uneventful helicopter ride. The plot device used to gain access to a safety deposit box is incredibly lame. The film is mildly amusing at times but falls far short of expectations given the initial premise. Redford and Segal try but can't rise above the uninspired script.
From time to time I get a craving for heist movies. And since I have seen most of the popular ones I always am on the search for other heist movies. While this small movie doesn't do anything spectacular I do consider this a classic. Robert Redford is very restrained and pretty serious in this movie. And this added to the hilarious events in the movie which you just have to see to believe it. At one time I even thought it was going to turn into a full mode slapstick comedy with no holds barred. But almost every actor remain straight faced and serious throughout the movie which only added to the fun experiencing this movie. "The Hot Rock" is a typical heist movie that only could have been made in the seventies. But even when the technological aspects in this movie seem outdated it never gets boring. Like any good heist movie you are rooting for the main characters to succeed especially when things don't go the way they planned. This movie has everything you want from a heist movie. And I find it rather strange that this movie is not so well known. A must watch!
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