Tag Archives: Best Seller (1987)

The heist always goes wrong, part 2: reader picks and other favourite heist movies

ST 2My recent post The heist always goes wrong – ten of the best heist movies ever made, generated some great reader feedback. The best thing about the response was that it pointed me in the direction of a number heist films I hadn’t seen or that I need to revisit.

Based on your comments and the thoughts I’ve had on the subject since the original post, here are follow up list of other films that could be included in a best of heist films list (and my shameless editorialising regarding what I think about the merits of not of them).

Straight Time (1978)

A huge thanks to West Australian crime writer David Whish Wilson for alerting me to Straight Time, which I’d seen previously but forgotten. Dustin Hoffman plays a career criminal just out of prison, trying to stay on the right side of his ball breaking parole officer, masterfully played by one of my screen heroes, M. Emmet Walsh, and avoid the temptation of re-offending.

Straight Time is based on the book No Best So Fierce, by real life con Edward Bunker (who has a small role in the film). Everything about this film works, the script, the down at heel late seventies feel, the cast, which includes Theresa Russell, Gary Busey, Kathy Bates and Harry Dean Stanton.… Read more

Fast Walking: James Woods and how to do sleaze

Ever since I posted on the underrated movie Cop a few months ago, I’ve been engaged in my own James Woods film festival.

As I wrote at the time, Cop is a great little neo noir that combines the rogue cop, police procedural and serial killer genres. But it works so well due to the casting of James Woods as the central character of Detective Sergeant Lloyd Hopkins, a sleazy burnt out LAPD homicide dick trying to track down a maniac no one else thinks exists.

Watching and re-watching Wood’s films only confirms his status as the original hard-boiled bad lieutenant. With his whippet thin body and bedroom eyes, his looks are more lounge lizard than movie star perfect. And his permanently up turned lip and slightly bad skin make him look like a man with a bad past.

Starting with The Onion Field (1979), in which he played a disturbed ex-con who panics one night when he and his partner are pulled over by cops and murders one of them, Woods went on to play some of the most repellent yet strangely charismatic sleazes on film.

Videodrome (1983): This early Cronenberg effort hasn’t dated in the slightest and Woods’ is in top form as sleazy soft porn cable TV producer, Max Renn.… Read more