Despite arguably being one of the most formulaic genres in filmmaking, the heist movie has remained one of Hollywood’s most popular category of motion pictures throughout the past half-century. From 1930s efforts such as Outside the Law and Raffles, through to 2010’s Inception, heists and capers have had an enduring appeal to moviegoers in the west.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of such films is the fact that the audience are largely positioned to root for the outlaws in their attempts to carry out a high-stakes robbery. In any other film, such characters would likely play the roles of the antagonists instead. With so many superb heist movies released over the past 40 or so years, today we’re taking a look at three of the most influential – not to mention greatest – film heists of all time.
Inside Man (2006)
Directed by Spike Lee, Inside Man (2006) was arguably the greatest heist movie to hit the box office since 2001’s star-studded Ocean’s Eleven remake. Focusing on an elaborate bank heist and starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster, the film grossed over $184 million worldwide against a $45 million budget, and received mostly positive reviews.
The bank heist has long been a staple of popular culture, with audiences drawn in by the fascination of lead characters potentially obtaining such a vast amount of money and the twists and turns that ensue. In this regard, Inside Man delivered in spades, with audiences captivated by Owen’s fourth-wall breaking Dalton Russell ringleader. In addition to inspiring movies such as The Italian Job (2003), Heat (2005) and Fast & Furious 5 (2011) in recent years, the bank heist genre has been the focus of many successful video games as well.
For instance, as explained in this great review of Break Da Bank Again online slots , Microgaming’s five-reel game features monetary symbols such as coins, checks, cash, gold bars and gems, along with the chance for users to break open the vault door. Elsewhere, it’s also inspired popular titles such as Payday (2011), Thief (2014) and The Getaway (2002); the latter of which ambitiously recreated large areas of London on Sony’s PlayStation 2 console.
The Pink Panther (1963)
Despite initially receiving a mixed critical reception upon release, Blake Edwards’ 1963 detective comedy The Pink Panther proved to be a seminal film in both the heist and caper genres, and now holds an impressive Rotten Tomatoes rating of 90%.
Featuring Peter Sellers in his star turn as hapless detective Inspector Jacques Clouseau, The Pink Panther saw the bumbling Frenchman attempt to thwart the efforts of legendary jewel thief Sir Charles Litton, otherwise known as the Phantom, as he attempted to steal the titular Pink Panther diamond. While the movie largely started out as a conventional caper flick, with the primary focus being on David Niven’s Litton, Sellers proved so popular with audiences that he went on to be the leading man in multiple sequels and spinoffs.
Not only that, but the film’s opening animated sequence, featuring the Pink Panther character, was so popular that it went on to become embedded in popular culture, spawning its own Saturday morning animated series, The Pink Panther Show, which ran for over 11 years. The character went on to be used in numerous video games, including PC adventure game The Pink Panther: Hokus Pokus Pink and a Playtech-developed slot title. Readers can learn more about Pink Panther online slot game here. It also featured in a Gold Key Comics 87-issue comic book series, numerous advertising campaigns, and even a cake.
With so many excellent and influential heist movies released since the mid-20th century, it was extremely difficult to narrow our selection down to only two contenders. With Going in Style currently playing in theaters across the world and attracting three Oscar winners in Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin to star, the genre is showing no signs of slowing down yet.