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The Bank Shot (1974)

PG | | Comedy, Crime | 31 July 1974 (USA)
A motley crew of criminals plans to rob a Los Angeles bank that's temporarily located in a mobile home during renovations.


Gower Champion


Wendell Mayes (screenplay by), Donald E. Westlake (from the novel by)




Cast overview, first billed only:
George C. Scott ... Walter Upjohn Ballentine
Joanna Cassidy ... Eleonora
Sorrell Booke ... Al G. Karp
G. Wood ... Andrew Constable
Clifton James ... Streiger
Bob Balaban ... Victor Karp
Bibi Osterwald ... Mums Gornik
Frank McRae ... Hermann X
Don Calfa ... Stosh Gornik
Harvey Evans ... Irving
Hank Stohl Hank Stohl ... Johnson
Liam Dunn ... Painter
Jack Riley ... Jackson
Pat Zurica ... Man in Privy
Harvey J. Goldenberg ... 1st Policeman


A bank, temporarily housed in a mobile home while a new building is built, looks like an easy target. On the other hand, why not steal the whole bank and rob it in a safer location? Written by Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Master criminal Ballantine and his gang hit the Mission Bell Bank with jacks, tires and a tow truck, in the biggest bank shot of the century. They didn't stop with the money, they took the whole bank. See more »


Comedy | Crime


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Most of character names have been changed from the original novel; only Hermann X's name is unchanged. See more »


When Ballentine goes to the drugstore to purchase saltpeter, he requests Potassium Sulfate, rather than Potassium Nitrate. See more »


Andrew Constable: [at the site of the stolen bank, talking about Ballantine] Who would believe it?
Streiger: Who would believe anything Ballantine does?
[suddenly yelling]
Streiger: Who would believe anyone would steal a million dollars worth of nickels from the U.S. Mint?
Andrew Constable: That's right.
Streiger: Who would believe anyone would hijack an oil tanker on the high seas?
Andrew Constable: Exactly!
Streiger: And who would believe anyone would steal a whole Federal - -
[he falls into a pool of water]
See more »


Follows The Hot Rock (1972) See more »

User Reviews

Not quite British enough quirky caper film.
12 January 2003 | by EThompsonUMDSee all my reviews

Adapted from the Donald Westlake novel of the same title "The Bank Shot" stars George C. Scott and a very young Joanna Cassidy (Zora, the snake-dancing replicant of "Blade Runner" fame). A farcical entry in the caper genre whose hook is a plan to steal a bank (mind you, not rob the bank, but to heist, not to mention hoist, the very structure itself), the film exhibits the dry humor, zany sight gags, and whimsical plot twists characteristic of post-Alec Guinness and "Tom Jones" British cinematic comedy.

As a 1974 Hollywood release, "The Bank Shot" was somewhat ahead of its time, preceding both the Monty Python invasion and the American popularity of films like "A Fish Called Wanda." This film is nowhere near as successful as its more famous British counterparts, but it does have its moments and, viewed from a contemporary perspective, an appealing aura of mid-'70s nostalgia replete with long-haired disguises, peace signs, garish fashion, and a plot-central splashing of hot pink paint. Like "Tom Jones" but to a far lesser degree, the film's whimsy manifests itself in its visual an aural techniques not only in its storyline. Some instances include a stunning silhouette sequence that plays like a moving shadow box, an insistently self-conscious (and ultimately annoying) use of voice-over narration, and several outrageously choreographed chase scenes (one involving a golf cart and a caterpillar tractor and another in which everyone - even a pedestrian bystander - is moving backwards were memorably wacky).

Befittingly, the caper gang in "The Bank Shot" is a mixed bag of nut cases, some more effectively cast than others. In a minor role so early in his career that the credits still list him as "Robert," the always interesting-to-watch Bob Balaban is, well, interesting to watch. Also adding quirkiness and some adept physical humor to the cast is Don Calfa, who is perhaps best remembered for his role as Paulie the hapless hit man in "Weekend at Bernie's." Less successfully cast - indeed the killer of every scene he's in is Sorrel Booke as the sidekick who springs criminal mastermind Walter Ballantine (George C. Scott) from jail in order to pull off "the shot" on the bank.

Scott himself, despite his great success in heavy satires like "Dr. Strangelove" and "The Hospital," seems strangely miscast or under-directed in this film. He so underplays his role that he often seems quite nearly asleep. One might be tempted to attribute the sleepwalking to the sodium nitrate (saltpeter) his character continues to consume in large doses even after escaping from prison, but so far as I know the chemical only causes impotence, not somnambulance. Joanna Cassidy, on the other hand, plays the gang's money man, hanger-on, and would-be seductress with a grating manic intensity.

All in all, this gang isn't quite charming enough (British enough?) to make us care whether they succeed or fail in the heist nor does the screenplay supply enough chuckles to quite sustain the film's comic tone. "The Bank Shot" is nevertheless worth a look, but only in a widescreen version that preserves its original Panavision format. It can't afford to surrender even the slightest bit of the visual humor around its edges to cropping or panning.

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Release Date:

31 July 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Bank Shot See more »

Filming Locations:

Richmond, Virginia, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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