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The Outfit (1973)

Earl Macklin robs a bank owned by the mob, serves his prison time and is released, only to start a private war against the crime outfit that owned the bank.



(novel) (as Richard Stark),

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Cody
Jake Menner
Kimmie Cherney
Buck's Wife
Felice Orlandi ...
Frank Orlandi
Madge Coyle
Alma Macklin
Rita Mailer
Hit Man
Carl (as Elisha Cook)
Buck Cherney


When the small criminal Macklin is released from prison, he learns that his brother was shot by two mob killers. He didn't know that the bank he robbed was owned by the syndicate. When he's almost offed by a killer too, he pays the mobster Jake Menner a visit and demands reparation. His friend Cody helps him to gratify his thirst for revenge. Written by Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Nobody plays rougher than The Outfit...


Crime | Thriller | Drama


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

9 February 1974 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

A Quadrilha  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


The cream-colored car Earl drives at the start of the film is a 1965 Chrysler Newport convertible coupe. He then trades it in for a 1973 Dodge Monaco. See more »


When Bett goes back to the motel room after calling her father, on the exterior shot she stops at the room's door to get her keys and we can see the exterior doors and frames are blue. In the next shot, from inside, Bett opens the door and the door frame is white and looking beyond her it's not the outside of the motel at all, but another room. See more »


Rita Mailer: Damn you. Why'd you have to kill him?
Earl Macklin: He owed me money.
See more »


Referenced in Pulp Fiction (1994) See more »


Your Guess Is Just As Good As Mine
Written by Steve Gillette and Jeremy Joe Kronsberg
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User Reviews

Watch this if you get a chance
11 August 2005 | by (Middlesex, England) – See all my reviews

It is a while since I have seen this film and it might be a while till I can see it again as it is not available in the UK in any format. Nevertheless I cannot recommend it too highly to any crime film buff who enjoys the work of Don Seigel or films such as the original "Getaway" or "killing of a Chinese Bookie". If you can get it on VHS where you live or it is shown on television late at night then try and see it.

This film is from a golden era of the crime thriller. This was a never to be repeated halcyon era. Crime films were no longer saddled with worthy "crime does not pay" messages and directors were given free rein on plot. Censors were no longer cutting out sex and violence from films. But on the other hand directors had not yet broken the sex and violence volume control knob then and saturated films in them till more definitely became less ( See Kill Bill 1 & 2 ). Realism and grittiness ruled the roost. There was none of the irony and knowing attitude along with the allusions and references and homages to other films which burden contemporary thriller films.

Of course one director in particular is responsible for this trend. Tarantino has made some great films but I feel his legacy seems to have permanently hobbled the crime film genre ever since. Any good crime films made since "Reservoir Dogs" are made despite his influence not because of it.

The Outfit is so fresh in comparison with the mannerised offerings that have dominated the crime genre for the last ten years. When you watch this film you willingly suspend belief. It is a film about a not very nice person doing not very nice things to some other people who are not very nice. This does not sound very involving but the protagonist played by Robert Duval pulls you into the film with his thirst for revenge and you identify with him although he is neither a hero nor a anti-hero but just a guy trying to get back at the Outfit.

There is no glamour in this film and it is not slick and the direction is flat but these are all good things. It is not saddled with "auteurism". Perhaps this is simplistic but auteurism seems to be a process where by some French critics looked at American films, made a theory from what they had seen and then it got sold back to the Americans. In the process they unfortunately changed American directors from craftsmen into artists and the change was not all for the good.

This is a film made by a craftsman. It is not trying to scream out the director's identity with every shot. Good directors like Hitchcock have their own style in a film such that most or all of their films belong to them. Nowadays every director seems to want to be Hitchcock. Unfortunately not every director can be a Hitchcock, so the film going public have to suffer all these films where the medium suffocates the message as the director expends all his or her energies stamping their identity on the film and meanwhile plot and character development and atmosphere go to the wall.

This is not a film like that. It is bare and unadorned and low key and almost documentary in style. But these things are what makes it good. The people and the situations and the locations look real. The characters exist in a milieu of grasping little guys trying to chisel each other on the next deal. Everything is about money or personal esteem or revenge in a twilight world of losers who do not realise they are losers because they are too busy ripping off the other guy to notice. Even if this world never existed this film makes it real but it feels like a glimpse into a forgotten era.

It features a compelling central performance from Robert Duval who has complete conviction in his role. Robert Duval was never going to be a top grossing actor most likely for the silly reason he is bald but he offers total believability in this part as he does in most of his performances. He is assisted by a panoply of great character actors such as the greatly underrated Robert Ryan.

The plot is from a book by Donald Westlake who is probably second only to the great Jim Thompson as a chronicler of American pond life. It moves along at a brisk pace to an inevitable denouement but it carries you along with it. It does not digress to consider aspects of popular culture or introduce preposterous sub plots or an irrelevant back story to make the film more complex it just gets on with it.

See it if you can.

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