Two convicts break out of Mississippi State Penitentiary in 1936 to join a third on a long spree of bank robbing, their special talent and claim to fame. The youngest of the three falls in ... See full summary »
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Robert Downey Jr.
The familiar tragic story of Vincent van Gogh is broadened by focusing as well on his brother Theodore, who helped support Vincent. The movie also provides a nice view of the locations which Vincent painted.
Two convicts break out of Mississippi State Penitentiary in 1936 to join a third on a long spree of bank robbing, their special talent and claim to fame. The youngest of the three falls in love along the way with a girl met at their hideout, the older man is a happy professional criminal with a romance of his own, the third is a fast lover and hard drinker fond of his work. The young lovers begin to move out of the sphere in which they have met, a last robbery in Yazoo City goes badly and puts paid to the gang once and for all as a profitable venture, but isn't the end of the story quite yet, as all three are wanted and notorious men with altogether different points of view on the situation they are faced with. Written by
Movie critic Pauline Kael, who was a great admirer of Robert Altman, spent some time on the set of Thieves Like Us while it was being filmed in Mississippi. See more »
In one of the old radio clips early in the film, the announcer talks about Seabiscuit winning the $25,000 Butler Handicap at Empire City Race Track. The actual date of Seabiscuit winning that race is July 10, 1937, which would place it after the end of the movie which concludes in the Spring of 1937. See more »
You think life's free, don't you, Elmo? I ain't never had my name in the papers like you fellas.
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This is one of Altman's very best pictures. As another comment puts it: it looks like he took his cast and crew back in time to the 30's and shot on location. The script adaptation is first rate and things keep moving forward even when we're sitting around just observing. The thing that makes this such a great Altman pic is the growth and unfolding of the characters over the course of the movie. There isn't a plot, but there is a story, and that will prove to be a crucial distinction, separating Altman from everyone and good Altman (this) from bad, aimless Altman (H.E.A.L.T.H.). The performances are excellent. Carradine, John Schuck and Bert Remsen make the absolute most out of opportunities they've never really been given again, Remsen is an old pro and Schuck really is unforgettable. Louise Fletcher makes an impression a year before her Oscar for "Cukoo's Nest" and an eternity of typecasting. Shelley Duvall tells a rambling, loosely-if-at-all connected story with the best of them. She always sounds like she's trying to spit out her lines as quickly as she can before she forgets them. Carradine falls prey to this during some of his scenes, particularly opposite her, but his composed silence makes him an ideal protagonist, someone whose almost visible thoughts define him even more than his actions. It's just that Duvall is the same almost all the time, and while that works for some actors it doesn't work so well when they do a movie in present day then 1930's right next to one another and do everything the same. Also, there seems to be something in her contract requiring shots of her screaming her blamed head off in every movie she's in.
It is impossible not to see how this film is influenced by "Bonnie and Clyde." If it weren't so darn good everyone's subject lines would read "Bonnie and Clyde knock-off." It is set in the same time period, and the artwork on the box recalls the earlier movie. What distinguishes it is the bond between the three escapees, and the box should really show the three of them, the title isn't "A Thief Like Me." I can't vouch for mirrors and reflections necessarily meaning that the film is about self-perception and etcetera, because often with Altman he just felt like shooting it that way. But go ahead if you want to, I'm sure the film is strong enough to support any such conjectures.
Coke. I've never seen so much of one product in a movie, even when Louise Fletcher comes out of her house she has coke in a glass, the prison in Mississippi is sponsored by Coke.
I've left out the best part of the movie so far. Altman runs radio programs over some scenes, like bank robberies, and behind other scenes, humorously commenting on the action. I wish he would have stuck with it during the last half hour a bit more, but it's a brilliant device.
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