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 »
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
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 »
I come from the Ozarks. All we grow there is rocks and tomatoes.
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Achingly ordinary...an asset for the subject, if not for the movie itself.
Thieves Like Us (1974)
I really like most Robert Altman Films, but I never quite love any of them, even famous films like "MASH" or "Short Cuts." And "Thieves Like Us," which is a kind of loose remake of a favorite of mine, "They Live by Night" (1949, Nicholas Ray), is another really enjoyable, well made movie that lacks some kind of edge--creative, aesthetic, social, something--to set it off as remarkable and fresh.
You might get the most out of this by just settling in and enjoying it, a plot that purposely lacks some of the high romance of, say, "Bonnie and Clyde" or some other outlaw-on-the-run movie. But if you do see the earlier Ray version, which is based on the same novel, you'll at least notice the way movie production has changed from the great Hollywood years of the 1930s and 40s to the New Hollywood inventions of the late 60s, early 70s. This movie lacks the sheer beauty of the first, the perfection, made possible by studio shooting. Here, it is all location work (in Mississippi), which adds authenticity and atmosphere, but which also keeps it from the kind of tight control of a typical 40s film.
Another difference might simply be that this is a Altman movie and the other is by the inimitable Ray, who was able to fill his characters with humanity and heart, and so even lesser known actors (all of them) come alive fully. Altman's characters have all the quirks and nuances of real people, and though it doesn't feel a bit like a documentary, you do have a feeling that none of this rises above. It is meant to be grounded in a kind of realism that gives it authenticity over heightened drama. It's a choice I appreciate, even if it sometimes deadens the film.
The plot is important for how it makes bank robbers as ordinary as you or me (hence the title). The augment to this is that we are supposed to identify with them--or by a stretch, we could picture ourselves doing the same thing. But that's just not true. The robbers seem very regular and normal, but they also seems selfish and stupid. They plow ahead regardless of better options. And it's too often about money--money they never actually use (they live in squalor) or know how to dream about using (they have few dreams, in fact). The leading couple here does have a romance, and it's truly touching, but also tragic. Altman can't help but pull a "Bonnie and Clyde" ending, of sorts (slow motion violence) but it feels hard and nasty. Maybe it's supposed to, a reaction to police authority appropriate for 1974.
So what do we really have? A substantial, well made, restrained movie that plays a little too much by the book--the new book, the New Hollywood book, but a little timid cinematically.
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