The Hot Rock (1972)

The Hot Rock (1972)

Year

Certificate

U

Length

101 mins

Genre

Director

Rating

  4/54/54/54/54/5

 
 

The Afghanistan Banana Job

The control phrase 'Afghanistan Banana Stand" - Miasmo

Robert Redford as Dortmunder in The Hot Rock (1972)

I have a simple question, why isn't "The Hot Rock" better known because it is above average when it comes to the genre or should that be genres. I say genres because this is a heist movie crossed with a caper movie as one botched heist leads to another and another and yet another. It may not have the ingenuity of some heist movies or the outrageous comical exploits of other caper movies but interweaves the two perfectly with a strong cast which make every moment of humour a delight and the craziness of the heists amusings.

Having just got out of a stretch in State Prison Dortmunder (Robert Redford - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) is picked up by Kelp (George Segal - 2012) who wants him to lead a heist which will see them and a small team paid handsomely by Dr. Amusa (Moses Gunn) who wants a rare diamond stolen from a museum. But the heist doesn't go smoothly leading to one of the team being caught, the one who just happened to be holding the diamond and so now the remaining team need to pull of another crime and it certainly won't be their last.

George Segal as Kelp in The Hot Rock (1972)

So "The Hot Rock" is incredibly simple with its storyline of recently released Dortmunder agreeing to lead a heist to steal a diamond from a museum for a politician who wants to return it back home. As such whilst we have some comedy as Dortmunder is nearly run down by his friend Kelp as he leaves prison it is classic heist movie. Well classic in the fact that Dortmunder puts a small team together and prepares for the heist, although all of this is handled very quickly.

But then the caper element comes in as their first heist is full of humour from Kelp getting stuck inside the glass case to Greenberg swallowing the diamond before he is caught. This then leads to the next crime as with Greenberg in prison they need to bust him out to get the diamond costing the politician more money which he begrudgingly has to pay up. And the crimes don't stop their as they continue to flow because every time they try and get the diamond something goes wrong and so they have to pull off another crime.

All of which is not only stupid but also fun because every crime is infused with plenty of humour. And the humour runs from the visual such as Kelp being locked in the glass cabinet, incidental such as Greenberg unable to climb ropes when they try to bust him from prison to plenty of clever dialogue. But more importantly every botched heist is surpassed by the next one until we get to the final one and we are now ready for the fail, what could go wrong this time especially when they try using hypnosis and the key phrase "Afghanistan Banana Stand", yes you did read that right.

The thing about "The Hot Rock" is that why it works comes down to the casting and in particular that of Robert Redford and George Segal. Redford and Segal make every moment of humour work from Segal as Kelp being a lousy driver to just a simple look which Redford gives as Dortmunder. And to be honest it is Redford who makes something as utterly stupid as being peed on by a baby funny and in context with the movie.

What this all boils down to is that there are better heist movies and better caper movies but "The Hot Rock" is one of the better caper-heist movies. And what is a shame is that it is not so well known as if you like heist movies and comedy then this series of botched crimes will make you smile.

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