An ex professor offers Adam $1,000,000 to "get" some plasma from a high tech company's lab. Adam asks his criminal grandpa for help. Can they convince Adam's now honest dad to join?


Sidney Lumet


Vincent Patrick (novel), Vincent Patrick (screenplay)





Cast overview, first billed only:
Sean Connery ... Jessie
Dustin Hoffman ... Vito
Matthew Broderick ... Adam
Rosanna DeSoto ... Elaine (as Rosana DeSoto)
Janet Carroll ... Margie
Victoria Jackson ... Christine
Bill McCutcheon ... Doheny
Deborah Rush ... Michele Dempsey
Marilyn Cooper Marilyn Cooper ... Rose
Salem Ludwig Salem Ludwig ... Nat
Rex Everhart ... Ray Garvey
James Tolkan ... Judge (as James S. Tolkan)
Marilyn Sokol ... Marie
Thomas A. Carlin Thomas A. Carlin ... Neary
Tony DiBenedetto Tony DiBenedetto ... Phil


Jessie is an aging career criminal who has been in more jails, fights, schemes, and line-ups than just about anyone else. His son Vito, while currently on the straight and narrow, has had a fairly shady past, and is indeed no stranger to illegal activity. They both have great hope for Adam, Vito's son and Jessie's grandson, who is bright, good-looking, and without a criminal past. So when Adam approaches Jessie with a scheme for a burglary he's shocked, but not necessarily uninterested. Written by Murray Chapman <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


There's nothing like a good robbery... to bring a family together.


Crime | Drama


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Three weeks of rehearsal, in a large hall, on New York City's Lower East Side, preceded the start of principal photography on November 14, 1988. It had been Sidney Lumet's practice since his work in the early days of live television to factor a lengthy rehearsal period into the production schedule of all his movies. Dustin Hoffman commented: "In a sense, you've killed the first three weeks with most movies because it usually takes that long before people start letting others into their lives. At the start of any film there is a kind of barrier separating the actors. The way Sidney works, with a lengthy rehearsal time prior to the production, you're at a place when you start shooting that you wouldn't be in most other pictures until you were halfway through them." Sidney Lumet said: "One of the reasons for my vaunted speed is because of the rehearsals. It's an irreplaceable process for me, a process of discovery, a process of getting to know the actors. When we get on the set, an awful lot has already been locked into place for us." See more »


Two stains on the right shoulder area of Adam's jacket appear and disappear during his argument with his father outside the cafe. See more »


Jessie: Come on. Let's pay our respects to the grieving widow before she falls flat on her face, drunk.
See more »


Referenced in Parker Lewis Can't Lose: Jerry's First Date (1991) See more »


Danny Boy
Written by Frederick Edward Weatherly (as Frederick E. Weatherly)
See more »

User Reviews

Decent and Thought-Provoking
11 July 2013 | by motorfocus82See all my reviews

As far as directorial work, this movie is a mixed bag; the pacing borders on terrible and there are some elements that are either wasted, or are the movie version of a non-sequitor. On the other hand, it has a few really good shots in it, too, and comes across as having some emotional honesty to every character that gives it value. It has funny moments but it's not a comedy, but more a drama. I'm writing this review mostly because the different moralities at play give people very subjective interpretations as to what this entire story is actually about. The three stars each have something to say that comes out garbled in the film's message. Connery is the grandfather, Hoffman the father, Broderick the son.

The real action is within the dynamics between Broderick and Hoffman, the son and his father who cannot see the other's point of view clearly; Hoffman has renounced crime to do well-paying grunt work for the rest of his life to care for his family, pressuring Broderick into a conventionally successful career that the kid doesn't want. But the thing is, Hoffman dislikes his life, and Broderick, as Connery points out, can smell the dishonesty; the boy resents the pressure placed on him to make good on his father's self-sacrificing investment. Hoffman's character, in bourgeoisie fashion, places way too much emphasis on status at the expense of intimacy, and there is a price.

This is one of those situations that bedevils families in the real world all the time, just exaggerated. If you don't have a taste for what the world considers the right way, then do you suck it up and pay it forward to the next generation? Do you deny yourself to create a more conventional environment for your kid? Even if it basically costs you a sense of identity that the kid might not respect you for losing? Or do you go your own way, accept the risks, and take your lumps? Sometimes, self-sacrifice is the best thing to do in the bigger calculation; sometimes, it's just stupid, a chip turning into a huge burden maintained by delusional self-righteousness.

There's an interesting, and thoughtful, code of ethics going on here. Connery's criminal morals are interesting: the risk, for him, makes crime honest, like any other business venture. As an economist and one who understands enough about the ethics behind property rights to know how fuzzy all this is, I can understand. It's not exactly inaccurate, and I share Connery's disdain for the idea that the law defines morality. So the movie raises some interesting questions, and that I like. Call it a C+, verging on B-.

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Release Date:

15 December 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Family Business See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,130,024, 17 December 1989

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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