The St. Louis Bank Robbery (1959) Poster

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Proposed bank heist suffers from unforeseen entanglements.
rsoonsa10 January 2002
This too little known noir work was filmed five years after the events of which it treats, and employs the settings where it occurred, Southwest Bank and its environs in St. Louis, while carefully utilizing within its cast the actual policemen, bank customers and area residents who were involved in the affair, all of which produce somewhat of a documentary impression. Three ex-convicts are joined by a college expellee, George Fowler (Steve McQueen during his Method period), creating an abruptly formed criminal quartet, with Fowler, assigned as wheel man for his first organized illegal endeavour, and we watch them as the robbery is carefully planned by the group's leader, John Egan (Crahan Denton) amid an assortment of simmering frustrations and jealousies which infest the men. Producer Charles Guggenheim also directs, with assistance from John Stix, and the duo focus upon obtaining a naturalistic setting from the interesting script, which is very intense in feeling, with rather harsh dialogue, resulting in a dark film, at the heart of which is an old fashioned shootout where tactics are forgotten by both sides.
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Vintage heist film with striking emotional depth
tomligon20 August 2002
This film, as much the story of the personal lives of the robbers as of the heist, features terrific performances, a highly original script for the genre, and exceptional visuals and direction. Each of the would-be bandits is emotionally damaged in some way and the film reveals their individual quirky weaknesses with raw style. In one such sequence, Gino (David Clarke) is shaving and becomes intensely disturbed and claustrophobic when his roommate and fellow member of the gang (Steve McQueen) unexpectedly closes the bathroom door, a scene which stylistically seems to anticipate "Psycho", released in the following year. The look of late 50's St. Louis, the bandits' clothes and hats, the cars they drive, all provide a fascinating edge to this true story of a bank robbery, and one of the last great Noir films.
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Realistic,impressive, character driven crime drama
zippgun30 December 2004
Grim,essentially pessimistic,documentary like crime movie,based on real events,and shot on location in St Louis.The supporting cast seems to include a lot of local non-professionals.The film is most interested in dealing with the damaged psyches of the 4 hold up men,rather than their elementary plot to rob a bank.All the lead parts are exceptionally well played,especially by a young Steve McQueen(as an ex-college boy sliding off the rails),and Crahan Denton(as the embittered,rather deranged gang boss).There are also hints(quite daring for the 50's)of a homosexual relationship between 2 of the criminals.Very different to typical Hollywood product of the period,and well worth a look-and not just as an example of McQueen in his apprenticeship period.Great cars and jukebox music as well!
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Good Realism, & McQueen Is Worth Watching
Snow Leopard9 February 2006
The decent degree of realism plus one of Steve McQueen's earlier starring movie roles help make this crime feature worth watching. The story has some pretty interesting aspects, and it adds to the realism with the well-publicized inclusion of many of the actual police officers who were involved in the original events on which the movie is based. On the other hand, the rest of the cast does not come up to McQueen's stature as performers, and at times some potentially powerful scenes lack a little something as a result.

The setup has McQueen's character hired as the getaway driver for a gang of bank robbers. Their careful planning is thrown into complications by an old girlfriend of George's (McQueen), whose brother is also part of the gang. The resulting tensions, plus the various unexpected developments as they carry out their plan, add some interest to the basic story. Many of the scenes are written and filmed rather well, although at times the movie expends some screen time on less interesting material.

McQueen does a good job with an unsympathetic character, and the supporting cast is mostly solid. Molly McCarthy is believable and generally sympathetic as Ann, but she does not always give her character a lot of depth. Crahan Denton gives the gang's boss a good, solid persona at the beginning, but afterward the character remains rather one-dimensional even when there are chances to bring out some interesting characteristics.

The straightforward, almost documentary style cinematography works pretty well, and makes a good combination with the downbeat story. Despite a few things that could have been better, this is not bad at all for its genre, and it is certainly worth seeing.
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Interesting in several ways
Tim-23026 June 2005
Let me begin by pointing out that IMDb makes a mistake when it lists Nell Roberts as "Woman in Bar Talking to George." The woman in the bar is George's girlfriend Ann, played by Molly McCarthy. Nell Roberts is the Salvation Army woman who appears in three places in the film but who speaks only at the end when she tells a cop, "Don't go in. They're robbing the bank." I speak from authority as the great-nephew of Nell Roberts, my grandmother's sister, who was active in community theater in St. Louis in the 1950s, and who also had a bit role (as an old woman who answers the door) in the film, "Hoodlum Priest" (starring Don Murray), which was also made in St. Louis. We always knew her as "Aunt Nelly," so I guess "Nell" was her stage name.

In any case, "The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery" is an interesting little movie -- though there really is nothing "great" about it. The noir approach fits the story line perfectly, but the execution strikes me as stiff and amateurish, especially in the acting and the editing. McQueen was doing what he could to be Brando, but Brando he wasn't. The three other members of the gang and the girlfriend have various small strengths as actors to commend them, but they wouldn't have been enough for professional survival today. The plethora of extras and bit players must have saved the producers some dinero, and they do give the film a certain documentary and amateur-theatrical charm, but their performances (including Aunt Nelly's) are of a type to make the viewer uncomfortable in the expectation of an embarrassing gaff. The homosexual subtext (mentioned by other reviewers) is certainly not imaginary. In fact, the things that make this movie most worth watching are, first, that homosexuality is included as a theme at all -- it was not necessary to the film's integrity unless the producers were aiming at some politically incorrect social commentary or had a personal ax to grind -- and, second, that the gay relationships had to be coded to make the finished work acceptable to the public in the late 1950s.

But I did enjoy the look of the cars and the streets of St. Louis (a la New York in "The Naked City") before the rapid urban disintegration that overtook it shortly afterwards, and from which it has still not recovered. The was the REAL "St. Louis Bank Robbery."
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Steve McQueen's Innocence....
dickson95 May 2006
is a must to see. Before he became "one of the System's bad boys". He is refreshing and I would tell any true Steve McQueen fan to see this movie just on the strength of his performance.

The movie itself is a hoot! I mean with not so evasive homosexual references and shades of Noir...and in the early 50's!! is worth seeing. I liked it.

It is a story of the "Great St. Louis Bank Robbery" in the early 50's....great period piece for those of us who were alive then....and for those who were not to see what a section of Americana looked like....

Using the real people involved in the actual heist is great! Non-Actors who are reliving their dream or nightmare....depending.

See it. You won't be disappointed.
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Solid heist movie
tnrcooper27 September 2013
For fans of intelligent heist movies, this is one you should enjoy. Four well-developed characters come together in order to try and knock off a quiet small-town bank. They all have backstories that make the characters' success or failure interesting to the viewer. They take their job seriously and this draws in the viewer and holds our attention.

The acting is not aided by the most interesting writing, and among the actors Crahan Denton deserves the most credit, and the character who doesn't want to go back to prison is also quite good. A young Steve McQueen is astonishingly bland. The script is not particularly imaginative, but the characters are interesting enough and the direction is competent. If you like straight forward heist movies, this is one you'll enjoy.
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Great little film-noir
chinaskee18 September 2003
Taut, well directed heist film featuring a very young Steve McQueen as the getaway driver in a bank robbery. Well cast, well acted, well shot and well edited. Don't miss this one and do yourself a favor and ignore anybody who tells you this isn't a good film because they don't know what they're talking about. I've seen a lot of film noir and I put this one right up there with " The Killing".
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A good but grim heist movie
expandafter30 July 2010
A very realistic heist film that is based on an actual crime and uses as a location the bank where the robbery took place.

The makers of this film were very professional and did a good job. The only downside to the movie is that it is so sombre; the characters aren't charismatic, witty, or cheerful, and they aren't in the habit of saying things like "Do you feel lucky?" or "Make my day." (On the other hand, that fact adds to the realism.)

Steve McQueen performs well, and he's not trying to be Marlon Brando. His character is a young, inexperienced man just out of college who's not too sure of himself and who is trying not to become a habitual criminal.

Since the film is in the public domain, a high-resolution copy can be downloaded here:
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Noir, Method and Gay
peter-cossey21 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Little known, but quite extraordinary independent movie from the tail end of the fifties, that is as good as any of the great heist movies from the post-war noir era. It's a stunning exercise in naturalistic movie making, using only real locations with natural lighting and sound that would grace an Italian neo-realist classic. Continuing that theme the actors are all either amateurs; down the list character actors; or,like STEVE McQUEEN and MOLLY McCARTHY, very inexperienced. The 4 gang members are all seedy losers with no redeeming features, but lots of psychological flaws that the bleak, uncompromising script lays bare, giving the audience no respite as they stumble towards their sordid oblivion. The raw method of McQUEEN in his scenes with MOLLY is sub-Brando, but interesting and unsympathetic, and of considerable historical interest; and the 3 C-list actors playing the other gang members seize their opportunities in lead roles, that in the case of CRAHAN DENTON especially, but also JAMES DUKAS, involve a startlingly blatant homosexual theme that would have had 50's audiences fainting in the aisles if they had known what they were watching. It is homosexual jealousy and angst that leads DENTON to commit the appalling killing of the girl, and an earlier scene in the hotel room with his henchman DUKAS reveals their dominant/submissive homosexual relationship quite openly.

Don't be put off by the low production values - this movie has much to say, and much to offer.
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Gay Allusions
Cjrod319 December 2004
For a film that was released in 1959, this has some none too subtle allusions to the homosexuality of two of the bank robbers, who served time together in prison. The leader of the gang, Egan, clearly has designs on the newly recruited "college boy" wheelman, played by Steve McQueen. This provokes jealousy in Willie, his henchman and presumably former lover. While many old movies had sly references to a character's homosexuality, this movie doesn't hint too subtly at it. What's interesting about this aspect of the movie is the fact that it's based on an actual crime that took place in St. Louis in 1954. The same cops and some customers who were involved in the ensuing shootout appear as themselves, as well as being filmed at the actual locales where it all happened. Did this fidelity to the real thing also apply to the actual robbers? I haven't been able to find out. Does anybody know if the characters portrayed here are based on actual people, or are they the invention of the film's makers? If they are invented, why did the makers promote a gay subtext?
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He's a real man, he doesn't need you!
sol12182 November 2005
(Some Spoilers) True story about the armed robbery of the Southwest Bank in St. Louis and the fate of the four bank robbers who participated in it.

Getting a crew together to knock off the Southwest Bank head crook John Egan, Crahan Denton, wan't his boys to case out the bank for a week before they rob it. The robbers spends hours at a time checking every angle and escape route to make sure that the robbery goes off without a hitch.

Right from the start things start to go sour when one of the robbers Gino, David Clarke, recruits young George Fowler, Steve McQueen, as the wheel man in the operation. George isn't a hardened criminal and only want's to pull off this job to get enough money for him to finish college and make something of himself.

Gino knows Geroge from him being his sisters Ann , Molly McCarthy, boyfriend and feels that he won't choke up when things get hot. That very fact, George being romantically involved with Ann, turns out to be the Achillese Heel of the "Great St. Louis Bank Robbery".

Needing a place to stay until the day of the robbery Gino tells George to go see Ann, whom he recently broke up with, an ask her for $50.00 and tell her that he needs it to keep him from being sent back to prison in Chicago.Reluctant at first Ann gives George the money, with a personal check to send to Gino. Later Ann sees him in the city, St. Louis, and knows that he and George are up to no good.

Depressed at the thought of Gino and George robbing the Southwest Bank, she saw George case it out from a diner across the street, Ann starts to get so out of hand that she jeopardies the impending bank robbery by getting drunk one evening. Later Ann goes a step farther writing in lipstick "this bank is going to be robbed" on the Southwest Bank's windows.

Outraged at Ann's behavior, and George and Gino not being able to control or shut her up, John and his partner Willie take Ann to their hideout where John in a fit of anger throws Ann off the fire-escape killing her. With both Gino and George totally in he dark to what happened to Ann, John and Willie tell them that she flew off to Chicago, the four get ready for the big bank heist. Then for some strange reason George is told that he'll have to take part in the robbery and that Willie is to replace him as the wheel man; it was John's way of keeping Willie quite about his murdering Ann.

The fact that Willie is put behind the wheel and George, who's not only a better driver but far more responsible and loyal to the group, was sent into rob the bank turned out to be a complete disaster. John gets shot by the cops with Gino killing himself when he saw there was no way out, and the thought of him going back to prison was just too much for him to take. George ending up badly wounded is arrested and sent to prison for the rest of his life. This destroys his dream of being able to finish his education and become an honest and upstanding citizen in the community. The man responsible for all this mess happening Willie, the getaway driver, gets away without as much as a scratch on him leaving the three other crooks to face the music, and police bullets.

Solid crime caper with Steve McQueen, as George Fowler, doing his best as he methods acts his way through the movie. McQueen goes from a quite and scared college kid to a hardened and unfeeling criminal within the 89 minutes of the film.

The ending is something to watch as George almost bleeding to death and holding a young couple hostage in the bank, Eddie and his wife of two months( Larry Gerst & Martha Gable), finally sees the light to what he got himself involved in. If George was as smart as he though he was he should have listen to Ann, when she was still alive,and all this would have never happened to him or her.
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Bank Robbery, Straight, No Chaser.
rmax30482318 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes a low budget just simply stops a movie from being the success it might otherwise have been. But the budgetary constrictions can be overcome to some extent by talent and sensitivity, even in the absence of stars. "The Littlest Fugitive" is a good example. Or, heck, look at "Detour" or "Gun Crazy." There's little of that poetry here.

The format is that of "The Asphalt Jungle." Four met of diverse temperaments are brought together by the leader, Crahan Denton, to pull an ordinary bank robbery in St. Louis. Nothing elaborate. Nobody crawls through sewers or hacks through walls. The gang simply times the traffic lights and figures out how long it will take for the police to respond to the inevitable alarm. The judgment is that they can empty the tills at the tellers' stations, avoid fooling with the vault, and get away in time.

A good deal of the movie describes the relationships between the four thieves. They're all pretty bleak. Nobody cracks a joke or even smiles except at someone else's misfortune. One of the characters is evidently gay, and Steve McQueen is the college drop out who is marginal but takes part in the robbery anyway. The robbery scene itself is extensive and doesn't make too much sense.

Not all that much of the plot makes sense either. How did McQueen's girl friend guess that Steve and the rest intended to rob a particular bank? He certainly didn't tell her. I guess that's fulgurating intuition.

The dialog isn't bad. A nice scene in a bar with Crahan Denton admitting to McQueen that he was born in 1897 and went to work at twelve to support his alcoholic mother. It's rather touching, despite Denton's delivery. (He acts and sounds like a villain in a 1930s B Western.) McQueen hadn't yet developed any acting chops. He walks around with his mouth open, looking bemused, and he frequently bites his tongue and purses his lips to express tension. And, OMG, is the direction and editing one hundred percent pedestrian or what. The pauses between utterances seem to last as long as the Wurm glaciation. Somebody should have stepped on the gas pedal.

The bank robbery itself is a mass of confusion. There's chaos when the cops show up far too early, and without any explanation of why. And it lasts a long time. Often the staging is completely off. Trapped, one of the robbers crawls down a long flight of stairs to the room with the vault and safety deposit boxes. He's all alone, testing doors, climbing walls, looking for a way out. When he realizes there is none, he offs himself, and the spectators upstairs in the bank lobby stare at him, clap their hands to their faces, and scream -- although they can't possibly see him.

The sluggish pace and meandering plot -- McQueen has an on/off girl friend -- make for tedium, yet it's not without some appeal. Nice 1950s cars. And St. Louis doesn't yet look like Dresden after World War II.
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Pseudo Documentary Approach Yields Pseudo Fun
psych-shawn22 January 2016
I like film noirs that are stylish, witty and fun -- like the Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, and Out of the Past. They may not represent reality, but they do create an alternate world that is enticing and one you want to visit -- even if only for 90 minutes at a time.

The Great Saint Louis Bank Robbery chooses to focus on the gritty, grimy side of crime in an effort to seem more "realistic". It may be closer to the truth than the stylized noirs of the 40's but it is also much less entertaining. The dialog is boring, the acting contrived (McQueen is trying so hard to be the next Brando or James Dean and it's just painful to watch), and the plot so predictable.

For a movie like this to work, you have to sympathize with a least one of the characters and I couldn't. Three of the four leads were certifiable mental cases and the other one was dumb as a stump.

For a much better heist noir, try KC Confidential or the Asphalt Jungle...
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Definitely Worth a Look
hawktwo6 April 2015
I tuned this in to catch a glimpse of early Steve McQueen. I stayed to watch it. The scenes of St. Louis were very interesting from a historic point of view. So much attention on the cars and the buildings -- this is an accidental snapshot in time. Steve McQueen grabs the attention as very angst ridden about his decisions, seemingly being drawn in a bad situation inch by inch. His girlfriend, although encouraging him to stay on the right path, also abets by funding the duo and not going to the police. Although not a well-known film, overall the acting and the dialog is quite natural. I can see why there is question of a homosexual relationship -- but in those days, hotels/motels were frequently not much more than a tiny bedroom with a double bed and a common bathroom down the hall. Kids frequently slept 2 or 3 to a bed and it wasn't uncommon for adults to share beds to save money.
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The Great Missed Opportunity
wes-connors6 January 2008
Heralded, "This story is based on a true incident. Men of the Saint Louis Police Department play the same parts they did in the actual crime," which is one of the less interesting elements about this film. Directors Charles Guggenheim and John Stix' documentary-style approach is more interesting. And, an early Steve McQueen stars; although, obviously, this is before he found a feature film persona that worked. Trumping all in the interest department, however, is the homosexual relationships between the characters, both real and imagined.

Mr. McQueen (as George Fowler) is a college drop-out, trying to lead the straight life. He is tempted into a life of crime, however, by ex-girlfriend Molly McCarthy (as Ann)'s brother David Clarke (as Gino). McQueen and Mr. Clarke have partnered up; but, the roommates have had a difficult time finding honest work. So, they involve themselves with a bank heist, masterminded by Crahan Denton (as John Eagan).

The fifth wheel in the cast is getaway driver James Dukas (as Willie). Mr. Dukas gives the film's best performance; and, he has the most interesting role. Dukas began with head honcho Denton when he was a younger, thinner "kid", a fact Denton cruelly enjoys mentioning; and, the two obviously became lovers. They have a terrific bickering scene, which ends with Denton ordering Dukas, "Go take a bath, Willie." Denton wants the younger McQueen to drive his getaway car, which makes Dukas very jealous.

Too bad that jukebox could only afford to play one record. With a bigger budget, "The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery" coulda been a contenda.
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" I want you to be something better than than a common thief "
thinker169128 November 2008
Six years after beginning his movie career, Steve McQueen put himself in the driver's seat with this early film. Watch it closely and you'll see this true life story has him playing the 'wheel man' during the St. Louis bank robbery. Having watched this movie icon, grow and mature over the years, you can almost notice as McQueen chafes under the director's yoke and script constrains of this black and white film. Observe if you will his natural body language silently wish he could break out of the character's mold and do his on screen magic. However, this story is based on an actual incident and once you're in, we can only sit and watch as McQueen does his best to fill in the role of the by-gone athletic hero gone bad. The men he joins lack cohesiveness and each brings his own problem to a crime, fraught with pitfalls. But each needs their $20,000 share, so to hell with the dangers. Any fan of the late McQueen can readily see the 'diamond-in-the-rough' the young star is and realize what an exceptional gem, he will become. Unlike the movie itself which left much to be desired on nearly every level, Steve McQueen rises above it and we almost wish we could follow him to a sequel of this story. ***
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Slow moving but interesting late entry to the 'film noir' genre.
opsbooks8 April 2005
Warning: Spoilers
This early Steve McQueen movie takes a long time to get moving but it is nevertheless good entertainment due to the documentary 'look' and intense performances from all the cast.

If you're a fan of fast moving action, I suggest you fast-forward through the first hour as it's chiefly a period when the director fleshes out the characters, and they are a right strange crew! Other reviewers have pretty much covered them so all I'll mention is that none are what they seem. The lead female character is perhaps the only 'normal' in sight. She puts in an outstanding performance despite having very little screen time.

Not a movie for you if you're in a depressed frame of mind but certainly something out of the ordinary and worth a couple of viewings should you be a fan of Steve and the genre.
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Simple, Direct, and Steve McQueen
clacura25 February 2018
If you are a Steve McQueen fan this is a must on your check off list. Steve's second major role before Wanted: Dead or Alive where he honed a lot of his skills on camera.

Movies like this are similar to Kansas City Confidential where is has that minimalist feel, like you are revisiting time gone by. No extras and low budget give a very realistic sense of time. I would show this movie to a class to unpack what 1959 looked like. From a historical perspective, these films are worth the free YouTube experience.

What I find annoying is how a bank robbery with such effort to plan and execute never mentions how easily it would be to get extra time in the bank to pull off the heist. Maybe if a screenwriter inserted this the movie would fall apart. A simple call or riot in a part of time far from the bank would pull all the small town cops to that location giving the robbers the needed extra time to secure their heist. Pay some kids to shoot a gun off, to smash a car, to harass a woman--man with a gun call--and BOOM, they're off! Yet, we never see this in a movie.

Recommend this film for the noir quality and to realize CGI, big budget is not needed to entertain.
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Drama not Thriller
rodrig583 May 2017
It is written at the beginning of the film that it is based on a true incident happened exactly where it is filmed. True or not, the movie is well done (two directors have given their strength ...), well played. Steve McQueen, after "The Blob", which is awkward, makes a very good part, is natural, convincing. The same Crahan Denton. David Clarke, James Dukas and Molly McCarthy are also credible. Most of the other films directed by Charles Guggenheim are documentary, which is also felt here somewhat. John Stix, the other director, has only 5 credits, the other four being TV productions.
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Based on a real-life case.
DigitalRevenantX724 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
George Fowler, a bright kid planning to go to college, agrees to join a gang of crooks in order to rob a bank in St. Louis. His friend & fellow robber, Gino, is due to be sent to jail in three weeks time for an unrelated crime & plans to make this his last heist. He is also the brother of Ann, George's former girlfriend. They case the bank & make preparations to rob it. But Ann, who is emotionally unstable following her break-up with George, begins to suspect that her brother & former boyfriend are up to robbing banks & decides to secretly sabotage their efforts by writing a warning on the bank's window in lipstick. When the leader of the gang, the psychotic John Egan, finds out, he kills Ann & forces George to take a more direct role in the robbery. But the heist ends up a spectacular failure.

This crime thriller from 1959 is based on a true story about a violent bank robbery that took place in the US & stars several of the real-life participants of the incident, mainly the police officers who attended & foiled the real-life robbery. The film uses a novel approach to make the film about the lives of the robbers in the week leading up to the robbery & the dangerous complications that upended it.

But while the film has a robust formula & the actors give consistently good performances, particularly Molly McCarthy as Steve McQueen's unstable former girlfriend, the film ultimately staggers due to a lack of purpose. Most of the film consists of character-driven melodrama over the gang's priorities & Ann's fragile mental state, but this is ultimately nothing more than padding for the robbery. And when the robbery does come, it is somewhat a disappointment due to the lack of time it takes up & ends up feeling anticlimactic. If you're a fan of Steve McQueen, this might do passably well as one of the actor's early credits but as far as heist films go, it is decidedly average.
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Not quite good enough
ericstevenson21 June 2016
I was interested in seeing this movie because it was based on a true story. It wasn't just that, it's that the people in the bank depicted in the scenes were actually people from the real life robbery! It is in fact important to properly represent an actual historical event, but it's rather easy enough to do it when you are yourself an actual person there. You know, not much actual acting. The bank scene that concludes the movie is really well done. Of course, I expected no less from the real life people were a part of it. I didn't know people actually died in that incident.

Now, the thing is, while the bank scene is great, the rest of the movie is just mediocre. I mean, I guess I haven't done my research so I don't know how accurate the buildup was. These are the scenes that have too much talking and aren't that interesting. I do understand that the real life people had no problem with the way the movie was filmed and I have to respect the bravery they showed in the event. It's just that I think this movie would have worked a lot better as a short film. That's really all the time you need to show this.

I harbor no ill will towards the people involved in the robbery, although as it happened in the 1950's, they are all probably dead now. That's still not an excuse to not honor them. In a weird way, I would recommend this movie if only because the bank scene is done well with the real life people involved. This is certainly better than other movies based on true stories like "Pearl Harbor" or "Patch Adams" (even though the real Patch Adams supports homeopathy, which has been scientifically proved to be the least effective medicine in existence). It doesn't become as good as "To Hell And Back" which also featured the real life person doing the acting and is a far superior movie. If you're into history, then I suggest this even though it isn't really all that good. **1/2
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Two Directors Or Maybe Two Cooks For This Thanksgiving Feast
bkoganbing15 December 2007
Steve McQueen has certainly a lot of loyal fans out there. He certainly was a charismatic fellow, one of the most charismatic the big screen ever knew. But even McQueen can't save this turkey of a film, shot with what looks like a brownie camera in the actual locations in St. Louis.

McQueen's a new kid with no criminal record brought into the planning of a bank heist by one of the other gang. There's more than a broad hint that there's a gay relationship going on between young Steve and David Clarke. He's not liked at all by the other heist members, mainly because of his lack of criminal resume.

Steve also has a girl friend in Molly McCarthy and she suspects something afoot, especially when he starts hanging around with Crahan Denton and James Dukas as well as Clarke, all pretty rough characters. That would certainly get my suspicions aroused.

The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery had two directors Charles Guggenheim and John Stix. Guggenheim did mostly documentaries and Stix didn't do much of anything. One of those two jokers decided Steve's performance was best served by doing a bad Marlon Brando imitation.

This film may go down as the worst ever done by Steve McQueen. I'm willing to bet that Dick Powell and Four Star Productions had already signed him for Wanted Dead or Alive because I can't believe they would have if they saw this.

Or they would have seen something the public would have overlooked except for the dressing for this turkey.
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Yet Another Z-Grade "Crime-Doesn't-Pay" Flick
strong-122-4788855 December 2013
If you were to ask me, I'd definitely say that the word "Great" really ought to be forever deleted (like, pronto!) from this shoddy film's title, 'cause once you see what a ridiculously bungled job that this "St. Louis" bank robbery was you'll clearly realize that it was anything but great.... (Unless, of course, the word "great" is used in reference to what a laughable mess the whole criminal operation was from start to finish)

If you're like me, you'll quickly find this 1959 Crime/Drama so fricking amateurish (on every level) that you'll swear it was an Ed Wood production.

I thought "St. Louis" story sucked, the acting stank, and the dialog puked. About the only thing in this totally lame picture that sparked any of my interest were the spiffy, vintage automobiles. Yeah. They were very cool.

Had this picture's running time of 90 minutes been edited down to, say, 60 minutes, then, yes, perhaps that might have helped things somewhat by moving the story along at a much quicker and more lively pace.

But, as it stood (especially with its intense focus on the super-dumb romance that took place between Steve McQueen's character, George Fowler, and Ann, a real dizzy, small-town bimbo), this film lost my interest long before the robbery actually took place (which didn't happen until the last 15 minutes of the story). And by that time I was too bored and tired to care what the hell happened to anybody or who ended up double-crossing who.

Filmed in b&w, this movie was directed by Charles Guggenheim, a dude who was noted for his documentaries.
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"Would you stop acting like I'm a gangster or something."
classicsoncall26 January 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Here's an interesting little noir style thriller starring Steve McQueen, who through a series of bad choices winds up as the fall guy for a trio of hoods that plan the robbery of the St. Louis Southwest Bank. His senior partners are portrayed by Crahan Denton, James Dukas, and David Clarke, all of whom garnered a reasonable amount of film recognition during their heyday, but are all but unknown today. The story recounts the planning and strategy for the big heist, primarily by Boss Egan (Denton). It seems to me though, with his experience, Egan should have shut things down at any number of points along the way, as the petty jealousies of his main henchman Willie (Dukas), and the inexperience of McQueen's character stood directly in the way of a successful robbery. The other hitch in the caper relates to the sister of Gino (Clarke), the remaining member of the quartet; she was a former girlfriend of George Fowler (McQueen). If this weren't a true story, I would have found the coincidence to be extremely contrived, but I'll have to assume her inclusion in the story to be portrayed as it actually occurred.

Curiously, Steve McQueen's performance seems somewhat awkward, even unsure at times. A good example is the conversation in the bar with his old flame Ann (Molly McCarthy); it's disjointed and reaches a point where he just walks away, almost like he didn't want to be in the scene anymore. Though this was one of his first big screen appearances, he was doing the Western TV series "Wanted: Dead or Alive" during the same period, and there he seemed perfectly natural and comfortable as bounty hunter Josh Randall.

Getting back to the story, it made me wonder why nothing ever came of Ann's lipstick rendered warning on the bank's window. The only follow up we ever see is a window cleaner removing it, though one might have expected some investigation from authorities, even if there was no conclusion.

The bank job goes awry once a teller triggers an alarm, and from there, the bandits literally fall apart. For those who haven't seen the film, I won't spoil it here, but you'll wind up saying to yourself, 'boy, what a bunch'! It would have been nice if a trailer had been provided to explain what happened to the surviving principals after the legal proceedings.

Steve McQueen fans would do well to get a hold of this one for an early look at the film legend's career, however beyond that, the movie itself isn't especially noteworthy. Generally somber to the point of being depressing at times, it's nowhere near as entertaining as 1975's bank robbery caper, "Dog Day Afternoon".
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