A gang of masked men break into an apartment to rob it, the little old lady living their rather than being frightened is excited. It is one of the many surreal moments which make up the entertaining and often strange "The Anderson Tapes" a heist movie from 1971. But calling "The Anderson Tapes" a heist movie is just part of its make-up as this is also a movie about illegal surveillance and wire taps as well. Though sadly this is definitely a product of the 70s and watching "The Anderson Tapes" now is even stranger because of how much it has dated.
Having served 10 years inside for safe cracking Anderson (Sean Connery - Shalako) is out and at the swanky apartment block of girlfriend Ingrid (Dyan Cannon - A Kiss at Midnight). But time inside hasn't changed Anderson and he is planning to put a team together and rob every single apartment in the posh apartment block. What he doesn't know is that Ingrid's room is being bugged and he is being monitored by a surveillance team despite not being the man they are interested in.
So "The Anderson Tapes" is a movie of 3 elements with the first being all about the heist and it is in many ways text book stuff. In fact it is so text book that even before we get to the heist we have Anderson getting out after doing 10 years inside and hooking up with the beautiful Ingrid as any man who's been starved of a woman would. Anyway after that we go through the 4 stages, the plan, the preparation, the heist and the aftermath all typical stuff and to be honest offering up nothing any different to other heist movies. The fact that Anderson speaks to mob man Angelo to provide funding is really only there as a link to all the surveillance elements and so whilst it is a solid heist element it's not imaginative.
What is a little more imaginative is the surveillance aspect of the movie because not only do we have someone bugging Ingrid's swanky apartment but there is bigger surveillance going on when it comes to Angelo. We have wires, bugs, hidden cameras and a lot more and much of it is slightly amusing. I say slightly amusing because of a couple of twists, one to do with the bug in Ingrid's place and also the outcome of the big surveillance operation. But you get a sense that director Sidney Lumet missed an opportunity to really play on the audiences paranoia over Big Brother watching them and so whilst clever is not clever enough.
But then there is the third thing and that is simply "The Anderson Tapes" is full of the surreal and strange. It all starts with the cool, calm way that Ingird phones up her lover in front of Anderson and dumps him in a blase fashion. Then when they are pulling off the robberies you have the little old lady who rather than being scared is thrilled to be being robbed because it is exciting. Then you have the strange way the police learn of the robbery and the way they try and stop it as well as the paramedic who is covering a blood stained pillow with a clean pillow case. It is this side of "The Anderson Tapes" which ends up being entertaining because you never know what strange scene will present itself next.
Talking of strange it has to be said that "The Anderson Tapes" is a product of the 70s and has dated so badly that it adds to the strangeness. There is the most annoying dating element which is the false almost futuristic beeps and whistles which are part of the soundtrack which watching now are only grating. But then you also have the attitudes, coloured men get called spooks, a man is called a fag and for those not use to this it must come across as strange. But then it is also typical of the time and so when we have a coloured man hired as a getaway driver it is what you would see in other early 70s movies whether or not it is right or wrong now.
As for the acting well it is as varied as the movie because one minute you have Sean Connery playing it very straight as Anderson then the next you have comic relief which is Stan Gottlieb as Pop. And so it goes on because you have the semi seriousness of Christopher Walken as The Kid followed by the campness of Martin Balsam as Haskins. It certainly keeps you on your toes and then you have Dyan Cannon who not only plays it serious as the sexy Ingrid but her icy coolness as she cruelly dumps a lover for Anderson is comical.
What this all boils down to is that "The Anderson Tapes" is for the most a very stereotypical 70s heist movie which to be honest has dated very badly. But then it has this quirky surreal side which keeps you on your toes and constantly makes you laugh, once you get past the terrible futuristic collection of beeps and whistles which are the soundtrack.