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The Brink’s Job (1979)

| January 2, 1979

For whatever reason, the late 70s were ripe with movies about big-money heists.  Possibly this came from the anti-establishment trend in the culture, possibly it came from the fact that the clockwork manner of a heist makes for entertaining visuals.  Whatever the reason, this was the era of the heist movie – The Great Train Robbery, A Man a Woman and a Bank, A Nightingale Sang in Berkley Square, Diamonds, Going in Style, Straight Time, the list goes on and on.

Caught in the middle of this throng of thievery, one of the most featherweight heist movies was William Friedkin’s The Brink’s Job.  Brought to you by a man known for films that jangle your nerves like The Exorcist and The French Connection.  In that, I must confess that he wasn’t as adept at functioning comedy.

That’s obvious here.  Based on a true story that took place in 1950, but played as a farce, The Brink’s Job concerns a group of middle-aged losers who decided to rob the Brink’s building and made off with a payoff of about $3,000,000 and became so infamous that they came into the cross-hairs of the J. Edgar himself.  But they weren’t criminal masterminds.  In fact, they were just a bunch of blue collar slobs who got lucky because they found crack’s in the building’s security system.

The movie doesn’t rise to great heights.  Friedkin wants to create a simple and funny little farce and for the most part he succeeds.  But what really keeps this film afloat is Peter Falk who can turn on the charm like no one else.  His smile and his energy in this film make us really care about him.  He has a scene with his wife (Gena Rowlands) in a restaurant in which he tries to lay out the reasons for the crime that is worth it just for his energy alone, particularly when he articulates how much the money wants him – “It’s screaming at me, ‘Hey Tony, come and grab me outta here!’”

The movie doesn’t fall into the faltering dangers inherent in a story like this – there is no bloodshed, no sad evocation of poverty that breeds crime.  This is a simpler kind of heist picture, one in which the blue-collar functionaries get to screw over the money men.  It’s not important, but it’s a lot of fun.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1979) View IMDB Filed in: Comedy