Poor Man's Goodfellas
For those who love their movies if I mention the Lufthansa heist there is a good chance that you might recognize it from Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas". But it was only part of the movie and there have been two other movies which have dealt with the Lufthansa heist; the 2001 TV movie "The Big Heist" and then this TV Movie from 1991 "The 10 Million Dollar Getaway" which premiered a year after "Goodfellas". In fact I will mention "Goodfellas" again because the influence of Scorsese's popular movie is evident right from the word go and not just because Mike Starr who is in this was also in "Goodfellas" but because of the style. Unfortunately that makes this often feel like an imitation which considering it is a TV movie makes it above average but compared to "Goodfellas" it feels week.
Now from a storyline point of view "The 10 Million Dollar Getaway" has a narrative arc which is stereotypical of heist movies. During the first third we meet all the characters who are involved whilst at the same time laying the foundations of the Lufthansa heist. The middle actually covers the robbery itself which for any movie fan will only end up as stereotypical as the build up as it fails to bring anything new to the mix. But then we have the final third which is what happened afterwards as the net closes in on those involved and many of the team end up murdered by the mob to silence them.
Now part of the trouble for me is that whilst the Lufthansa heist was only a part of "Goodfellas" it was handled so perfectly that when you watch "The 10 Million Dollar Getaway" it feels weak in comparison. It also treads over identical ground you have already seen and never really brings anything new to the story to make it stand out.
But the real trouble for me and the trouble which leaves me conflicted is that "The 10 Million Dollar Getaway" feels heavily influenced by Scorsese's "Goodfellas". The intro with John Mahoney's narration, the camera work which introduces us to all the characters in the bar with their mob names as well as the 50s soundtrack all feels like a poor man's version of the "Goodfellas". I said it leaves me conflicted as whilst it makes it feel like a poor man's "Goodfellas" it also makes it more stylish than most TV movies you will come across. In fact it even manages to draw on "The Godfather" with a church scene which flicks back and forth between prayers and action going on elsewhere.
As for the acting well the shadow of "Goodfellas" weighs heavy over this as in truth John Mahoney is quite effective as Jimmy Burke and his likeability as an actor helps us warm to his character. But of course Robert De Niro played the same character, although was called Jimmy Conway in the "Goodfellas" and no matter how good Mahoney is he is no Robert De Niro. It is the same with the other actors as they all end up coming across as weak when you are constantly thinking of how they were played in "Goodfellas".
What this all boils down to is that "The 10 Million Dollar Getaway" ends up feeling like a poor man's "Goodfellas" not only because of the true story they both cover but also because it uses a same style. But at the same time "The 10 Million Dollar Getaway" is in fact better than your usual made for TV movie and is easy to watch even when you do continually find yourself comparing it to "Goodfellas".