The Old Man & the Gun (2018) Poster


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  • Took place mostly in 1981. Edit

  • Like in the movie, the real Forrest Tucker embarked on his life of crime when he was a teenager. He was first arrested in 1935 for stealing a bicycle, and he first landed in prison at age 15. Edit

  • Yes. While an inmate of Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary in the 1950s, Forrest Tucker (prisoner AZ1047) managed to escape when he was transferred to a county jail in November of 1956 to await a court appearance. Tucker complained of pains in his kidneys and was hurried from the jail to a Los Angeles hospital. Guards were placed at every door. While their heads were turned, he broke a pencil and stabbed himself in the ankle. The injury forced the guards to remove his leg irons. As they ushered him into the X-ray room, he sprung up and strong-armed two guards then fled out of the hospital. He was caught a few hours later in the middle of a cornfield, still in his handcuffs and hospital gown. Edit

  • Yes. Together, Forrest Tucker and his accomplices were dubbed the Over-the-Hill Gang by the authorities who pursued them. John Waller, who broke out of San Quentin with Tucker in 1979, is portrayed by Tom Waits in the movie. Danny Glover's character, Theodore "Teddy" Green, was a fellow bank robber and escape artist who Tucker had first met in Alcatraz in the 1950s. He was reportedly a Greek American, not an African American like in the film. The Over-the-Hill Gang is believed to have committed as many as sixty robberies in a single year. Edit

  • Yes. Like in the movie, the real Forrest Tucker carried a gun during his heists. He described it as being an essential "prop" necessary for any bank robbery. He thought of himself as being similar to a stage actor, someone who could hold a crowd's attention with the sheer force of his personality. He was never reported to have shot anybody and says he would normally just flash the gun so the tellers understood the situation. "To me violence is the first sign of an amateur," Tucker said. Edit

  • Yes. In the movie, Casey Affleck's character, 40-year-old Texas lawman John Hunt, chases Robert Redford's Tucker from Texas to the East. A broadcaster challenges Hunt, saying, "Here's hoping time doesn't catch up with them before you do." Hunt was indeed inspired by a real person, a 40-year-old sergeant who had worked for the Austin police department. "They were the most professional, successful robbers that I ever encountered in all my years on the force," Hunt, now retired, told The New Yorker. "They had more experience in robbery than we had catching them." Edit

  • Yes. In the 1990s, Tucker wrote two manuscripts chronicling his life, the 261-page Alcatraz: The True Story and a more ambitious account titled The Can Opener. In Tucker's eyes, a Hollywood movie was the ultimate culmination of his life as an outlaw. "I called Clint Eastwood's secretary, but she said, 'Unless you have an agent, he won't read it,' " Tucker said. Convinced that he needed to become legendary like Bonnie and Clyde, a 78-year-old Tucker went back to robbing banks in 1999. He passed away in prison in 2004, more than a decade before his life story was turned into the Robert Redford movie. Edit



The FAQ items below may give away important plot points.

  • Yes. The Old Man and the Gun true story confirms that Tucker's August 9, 1979 escape from California's San Quentin State Prison unfolded much like it does in the movie. A 59-year-old Tucker (in the movie he is said to be 70) and two fellow inmates, John Waller and William McGirk, constructed a makeshift 14-foot kayak using wood, plastic sheets, duct tape and Formica. They stenciled the name "Rub-a-Dub-Dub" and the words "Marin Yacht Club" on the side, which they had painted blue (the other side was left unfinished to save time). They snuck it from the prison lumber shop into the water and attempted to paddle away as the guards looked on. Their craft was sound, but strong winds caused giant swells to flood the boat. It sank before they made it past the edge of the prison property at San Quentin. Fortunately for them, they were wearing sweatshirts and hats that Tucker had painted bright orange, with the logo of the nearby Marin Yacht Club. A guard spotted them clutching to their overturned craft as they kicked to the shore. He asked if they needed help. McGirk held up his wrist and shouted, "We just lost a couple of oars, but my Timex is still running." The guard laughed and returned to his post, still unaware that three prisoners had escaped. Waller and McGirk were captured within months and sent back to San Quentin. Forrest Tucker, however, was on the run for the next three years, during which time he and his gang, dubbed the "Over-the-Hill Gang", embarked on a spree of bank robberies. Edit

  • Yes. In the movie, a bank manager tells police after being robbed, "He was such a gentleman." Friendly and courteous, Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) tells the bank employees he encounters, "I'm just making a living." In David Grann's New Yorker article that inspired the movie, the real Forrest Tucker looks back at two bank tellers and says, "Thank you. Thank you," as he makes off with packets of cash. Police captain James Chinn, who was involved in Tucker's final capture in Pompano Beach, Florida, said that he had never met such a gracious criminal. Even a juror who voted in favor of convicting him commented, "You got to hand it to the guy-he's got style." Edit

  • The Old Man & the Gun true story reveals that bank robber Forrest Tucker was married three times. None of his wives knew that he was a criminal when they married him, only when they were later told by police following his arrest. David Grann's New Yorker article reveals the true damage that Tucker caused in their lives. His first wife, Shirley Storz, who he married in September of 1951, had the marriage annulled after discovering the truth. She had believed that she was married to a well-to-do songwriter named Richard Bellow, who made daily commutes to the city. When Tucker went to prison, Shirley was left alone to raise their five-month-old son Rick. The authorities confiscated her possessions since they had been purchased with stolen money. She moved in with her parents and went to work in a factory to support her son. Edit

  • Yes. When Forrest Tucker (Robert Redford) is in mid-getaway in the movie, he stops to help Jewel Centers (Sissy Spacek), who is stranded next to her broke-down pickup on the side of the road. He uses the situation for cover as the cops speed by. Tucker charms the divorced farm widow during a meal at a diner. A romance develops between them as they discover excitement and comfort in each other. Jewel is based on Tucker's third wife. In real life, they met in the early 1980s at a private club in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, not during one of Tucker's bank getaways. Instead of being a farm widow who drives a pickup, the real Jewel (spelled "Jewell") was an heiress to a modest moving-company empire, Acme Moving and Storage. She was indeed a widow, having lost her first husband shortly before meeting Tucker. When she was younger, the attractive blond is said to have looked a little like Marilyn Monroe. They married in 1982. Edit

  • Yes. The real Forrest Tucker considered this his trademark. He wore a hearing aid that was actually a police scanner. It was wired through his shirt and allowed him to stay one step ahead of the authorities. In particular, it would help to let him know if any silent alarms had been triggered. Edit

  • Yes. After robbing a high-security Massachusetts bank in the spring of 1983 by pretending he and his accomplices were armored car guards, Tucker, 64, fled to Florida to hide out. Tellers had identified him through mugshots. While in Florida, he was in touch with an old friend from Alcatraz, Teddy Green. One day, Tucker went to meet his friend in a West Palm Beach parking garage. He pulled into the garage, and just as his friend walked toward the car, FBI agents jumped out and screamed, "FBI, don't move! You're under arrest." He was certain that his friend had "ratted me out." Though no gun was ever found, several agents reported that they saw a pistol in his hand. The true story confirms that they opened fire, hitting Tucker three times. "They all opened up on me and hit me three times," recalled Tucker, "in both shoulders with M16 rifles, and with buckshot in the legs." He ducked down and floored it out of the garage, crashing as he exited. He stumbled from the car into the street. A woman passing by with two children offered the bloodied Tucker a ride, believing that he had been hit by a car. It wasn't until she was pulling away with him in the passenger seat that she noticed someone in the rearview mirror holding a rifle. Her six-year-old son screamed, "Criminal!" A half-mile chase ensued and they ended up on a dead-end street. Tucker signaled that the woman could exit the car with her children. He then stepped out and passed out in the street. Edit

  • Tucker is estimated to have stolen millions of dollars during his career as a bank robber and criminal. He also stole the equivalent of a fleet of sports cars. As a member of The Over-the-Hill Gang alone, he is believed to have stolen more than $1 million in cash and jewelry in the early 1980s Edit

  • Yes. Bank robber Forrest Tucker had a daughter and a son. They did not know him, as he had no part in their upbringing. "I thought he died in an automobile accident," said his son Rick Bellow. "That's what my mom told me to protect me." Rick didn't learn the truth about his father until his mom told him when he was in his early twenties. After his father was arrested when Rick was a baby, the authorities confiscated almost everything they had, including their furniture. "He left us with nothing. He turned our world inside out," said Rick. After striking up a correspondence with his father, Rick discovered that he had an older half sister named Gaile Tucker, who was employed as a nurse in Florida. They eventually met and tried to piece together the details they had learned about their father. "I don't have any ill feelings," Gaile said of her estranged father. "I just don't have any feelings." Forrest Tucker's daughter is represented by actress Elisabeth Moss in the movie. Gaile's name is changed to Dorothy. Edit

  • According to Tucker himself, he escaped from prison "18 times successfully and 12 times unsuccessfully." His first escape happened in 1936 at age 15 after he had been imprisoned for car theft. He was arrested for the last time in 1999 at age 78 after committing a string of small-time bank robberies from Texas to Missouri Edit

  • Yes. During a montage of Forrest Tucker's jailbreaks, instead of turning to prosthetics or CGI to make Robert Redford's character look younger, they included footage from his 1966 crime drama The Chase. Edit

  • Yes. In addition to building a kayak to escape from San Quentin, which starts the period of Forrest Tucker's life depicted in the movie, he had many other impressive escapes. They are chronicled in more detail in David Grann's article. Edit

  • Yes. Upon his release in 1993 at age 73, Tucker went to live with his wife Jewel who had purchased a peach-colored house for them in Pompano Beach, Florida. In 1999 at age 78, after trying his hand at giving clarinet and saxophone lessons, and attempting unsuccessfully to get his life story turned into a movie, he returned to robbing banks. He was captured and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Though Jewel remained by Tucker's side until his death in prison in 2004 at age 83, finding herself on her own was difficult to take. "The silence is unbearable," she told an interviewer. Edit

  • Since his incarceration in October 2000 following several bank robberies, he had had a number of strokes and became increasingly frail. A cardiologist determined that various blood clots were slowly cutting off oxygen to his brain. Forrest Tucker died in the Federal Medical Center prison in Fort Worth, Texas on May 29, 2004 at age 83. Edit

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