User Reviews (67)

Add a Review

  • I saw this film for the first time when I was a kid of about 4th grade age. It hooked me then and has stuck with me ever since as an enjoyable, fun, light caper movie. Granted it is not deep, serious or complicated. You do, however, "get your money's worth" because there is more than one caper that gets pulled for the good guys to finally come out ahead. If you are looking for fun adventure with the 70's charm and very little violence and virtually no adult language, give this movie a try.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Robert Redford heads up a team of criminals who can't seem to hold on to the diamond they stole in "The Hot Rock," a 1972 film that also stars George Segal, Ron Liebman, Paul Sand, and Zero Mostel. It seems like yesterday that Redford was the Brad Pitt of his generation; he's adorable as a two-time felon looking at life if he doesn't get away with his present caper - stealing a large diamond from a museum. He brings along his brother-in-law (Segal) who has lost some of his confidence as a safe-cracker, Ron Liebman, an expert driver who also does disguises, and Paul Sand, a demolitions expert. They successfully steal the diamond from the museum using an elaborate ploy to get the guards away from the site. Unfortunately, one of them (Sand) is caught, but before the police get him, he swallows the diamond. The team breaks him out of prison only to learn that he hid it in a holding cell. And that's only the beginning. Dortmunder (Redford) finally decides the rock is a jinx and declares, "It's either it or me." The performances are uniformly good, and Zero Mostel, as Sand's father/lawyer is hilarious, with a dramatic demeanor and an innocent, deadpan face when necessary. The story is very good and its many chase and travel scenes give us some nice, recognizable views of 1970s Manhattan.

    This is a very watchable, enjoyable movie. Great to see Redford the way he was.
  • This was my introduction to my favorite author and his prized creation (under his name anyway) Donald Westalke's John Dortmunder and crew make for a great book, so far thirteen and counting. This movie is based on the first book and one of the best.

    I won't get into the plot because it's been gone over before, but Peter Yates and William Goldman crafted a pretty fine entertaining film, it may not be as good as the book (in fact it's not) but it doesn't stray too far, you got Robert Redford who's good in about everything. When i was reading the books at first i pictured him as Dortmunder, but my mental image soon switched to Walter Matthau. Then George Segal is a pitch perfect Andy Kelp, i don't think anyone could have been better. As a gearhead, my favorite character of the series is the driver Stan Murch, and Ron Leibman embodies him perfectly.

    Overall the film is much better then other adaptations like "Bank Shot" with George C. Scott, and "What's the Worst that Could Happen?" with Martin Lawrence, and only slightly better than "Why Me?" with Christopher Lambert, and if you haven't read any Donald Westlake, you should. You really should, start with any of the Dortmunder books, and you'll get hooked.
  • The Hot Rock has a soft spot in my heart because the area of Brooklyn where a lot of the film was shot, I know very well, Eastern Parkway, The Botanical Gardens and most of all The Brooklyn Museum I know very well from years of living in the Borough of homes and churches. The Brooklyn Museum is where the elusive Hot Rock resides or at least where it first resides.

    Robert Redford is released from prison and his brother-in-law George Segal is there to greet him. As Redford says to warden Graham Jarvis there ain't no chance in hell he's going straight. Straight into another caper that Segal has lined up for him with Ron Leibman and Paul Sand.

    The amiable team is hired by African ambassador Moses Gunn from some fictional central African country to get a national treasure, a rather large diamond on display at the Brooklyn Museum. They do steal the diamond, but through an incredible combination of circumstances have to plan and execute four different break-ins before The Hot Rock is in their hands.

    Redford and Segal display a good chemistry, as good as the fabled co-starring chemistry of Paul Newman and Robert Redford. Why they were not heralded as a buddy combination is beyond me.

    Stealing the film in whatever scenes they are in are shyster attorney Zero Mostel and his doofus of a son, Paul Sand. In the first caper at the museum, Sand gets caught and what he does with the diamond sets up the entire rest of the film.

    As for Zero we find he's an attorney with absolutely no scruples whatsoever, the kind they make excellent lawyer jokes about. But he does give us some excellent laughs.

    The Hot Rock is something on the order of an American domestic version of Topkapi. The laughs in it are good and strong, although some of the Seventies fashions make me wince. Despite that the film holds up well today. I'm surprised no one is thinking of remaking this one.
  • A wonderful cast propels this warmly funny heist movie.As mentioned above-No sex, minute violence (knock on the head), no cussing-and totally entertaining.The cast Redford,Segal,Leibman and Paul Sand are all in top form. Add Zero Mostel and Moses Gunn and you'll find yourself watching with grin all the way through.Look fast for a very young Christopher Guest as a cop.Perfect score by Quincy Jones,and directer Peter Yates injects action into a nice prison break scene.I too, as a teen , saw this movie in the theater and it's still one of my favorites.... "But there are things you can have people do for you....Isn't that right Chicken?"......
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The story is simple. Redford, Segal, Liebman, and Sands work on various criminal activities with each other. Redford and Segal are approached by Moses Gunn, who (for political reasons) wants them to steal a jewel from a museum and give it to him. They do get the jewel out of the museum, but they lose it. They recover it, and lose it again. And again, and again. As Gunn becomes more and more angry at the growing expense of these botched thefts, Redford becomes more and more fanatical at beating the stone - he is convinced that some karma from the stone is preventing him and his team from succeeding in their plans.

    This nice little "caper" film is like a full scale movie version of a Road-Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoon. Redford and his team don't get injured, but they are so thorough in their planning (like Wile E. is with his use of various Acme machines), and always finds some mild miscalculation unsettles everything. It is a case of frustration on frustration. And it is very funny.

    Take the situation where Sands has been arrested. He had the jewel on him when arrested. He has been sprung from jail, but he hid the jewel in the precinct he was taken to. The Precinct is run by William Redfield, who is more concerned with whether the locals in the neighborhood will attack his policemen and the building than in finding criminals.

    Redford goes to observe the area, to see how to raid a precinct. While he cases the building he is robbed of his watch. He finally comes up with a scheme involving a helicopter and tear gas. The helicopter lands on the wrong roof, thus wasting time, and when it does land on the precinct, they invade the building, use the tear gas inside and outside (to confuse the dense Redfield), and then finds the holding cell - only to find no rock. They return to the roof and fly off, leaving Redfield happy - he's beaten off the radicals and their attack on his forces of order!

    Gunn, Redford, and Redfield have nicely delineated characters. But the best is Zero Mostel, as Sands' father. Mostel, at first, is quite the indignant pater familias, who blames Redford and Segal for leading his son into a life in crime. But gradually it turns out that Sands (in a moment of stupidity) told his father (who is a lawyer) about the rock's location in the cell. Mostel denies it, but he is convinced to tell where he hid it when he thinks he is facing a homicidal maniac. Subsequently he bounces back. He did tell them where it is, but it is nearly impregnable - unless Zero helps them.

    It was a pretty good film, and the semi-villainous characterization of Zero's Abe Greenberg is a fine one to set next to Pseudolus in FUNNY THING HAPPENED and Max Bialystok in THE PRODUCERS. Few actors have played such human, even lovable rogues as the great Mostel did.
  • Another shaggy dog story by crime novelist Donald Westlake is smoothly adapted by William Goldman into this enjoyable caper flick, expertly directed by Peter Yates of BULLITT fame. Robert Redford heads the cast of kooky crooks -- others include George Segal, Ron Leibman and Paul Sand -- chasing after a big diamond purloined from an impoverished African nation. How they get it, lose it, and desperately try to get it back again makes for a pleasant time-waster. As usual, Zero Mostel steals the show as a sleazebag lawyer who's more crooked than the crooks. Other pluses include gritty location NYC photography by Ed Brown and a very cool score by Quincy Jones. Afghanistan-bananistan!
  • This film is taken from one of a series of books by Donald E. Westlake about John Dortmunder & his various cronies who try to pull off big capers but never quite succeed. Anyone who likes this movie should try picking up the novel it's based on.

    If, as other posters have written, Robert Redford has prevented release of this movie on video then that's a shame since this is a very funny & enjoyable crime caper film with some good actors & good New York City locations. Recently, it has been on Cinemax (which I don't have) a couple times so maybe that is a prelude to a future video re-release.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Robert Redford has one of his best, but under-rated roles in this forgotten 1972 comedy-thriller. He's a recently released convict who goes in on a caper to steal a diamond from a museum and retrieve it to it's rightful owner, a small African country. Assisting Rob is George Segal and Ron Liebman as a car-crazy who loves to listen to LP's of traffic jam sound effects. The heist results in a comedy of errors where Redford is robbed by a crazy hippie, urinated on, and goes on one nasty helicopter ride through midtown Manhattan (almost crashing into The twin towers as they are being built!) Zero Mostel adds to the film as a double-crossing, cowardly lawyer who faces down a big thug named Chicken. It takes a hynotist working her trade on a bank clerk to straighten things out. Why this film isn't decently released on video, I don't know.
  • Robert Redford plays an ex-convict named "Dortmunder" who, with the help of Kelp (George Segal), Merch (Ron Leibman) and Greenberg (Peter Sands), undertake a goofy and delightful heist of a valuable diamond. This diamond, named the Sahara Stone, was stolen by both the United States and Africa for many generations, and Dr. Amusa (Moses Gunn) hires this unwieldy bunch to steal it back from the U.S. They steal it from a museum (using a huge car explosion), then from the prison, then from a police station before finally getting fired. However, all is not lost, for then Dortmunder actually gets the thing (with the help of a hypnotist and a gullible guard) from a maximum security bank. This is a great movie for those who like eating pizza in front of the TV!
  • This movie is great. I don't know how I missed it. All of the actors work well together. It is one of the funniest movies I've seen in a long time. Mr. Redford is a great comedian. Even though I missed it at the movies, thank goodness for satellite.
  • ferbs5415 October 2013
    Warning: Spoilers
    Traditionally, the heist film (aka the caper film) has unreeled in a fairly predictable, three-act format. In the first section, our protagonists pull together a team and plan their crime, "casing" the bank, jewelry store or whatever and examining diagrams, schematics and so on. In the second, the actual crime is perpetrated, and in the third, the viewer waits to see if the gang will actually get away with its crime. Various films have emphasized each of these three sections. While "The Asphalt Jungle" (1950) was more concerned with the actual planning stages, "Rififi" (1954) and "Topkapi" (1964) are fondly remembered today for their supersuspenseful, central crime sequences. And then there are films such as "Reservoir Dogs" (1992), which deal wholly with the heist's aftermath. Confounding the genre's conventions completely, however, is the 1972 outing "The Hot Rock," in which the planning sequence is kept to an absolute minimum, and the central crime is committed not once, but rather, four separate times!

    In the film, based on Donald E. Westlake's 1970 novel, the viewer meets a career criminal, John Dortmunder (an exceptionally likable Robert Redford), on the occasion of his latest release from prison. "My heart wouldn't be in it," he tells the warden (fans of the "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" show will recognize Graham Jarvis here), as regards his going straight in the outside world, and indeed, as soon as he steps out of jail, he is picked up by his wacky brother-in-law, Andrew Kelp (a very amusing performance here from George Segal), in a stolen car, and the two begin to plot out their newest caper. It seems that the U.N. ambassador from the African nation of Central Vatawi will bankroll them to steal the diamond known as the Sahara Stone from the Brooklyn give them $100K for the job. And so, the two men, assisted by loony driver Murch (the maniacal Ron Leibman) and explosives expert Greenberg (Paul Sand), put a plan into action. However, through a series of plot complications too lengthy to go into here, things just keep going wrong with this seemingly jinxed caper, and ultimately, to get their hands on the eponymous hot rock, our quartet must not only pull off that job at the museum, but also break INTO a jail, raid a police station, and bypass the security system of a Park Avenue bank's safety-deposit vault! The team must also deal with Greenberg's conniving shyster lawyer of a father, hilariously portrayed by the great Zero Mostel, and employ such tools as a helicopter, hypnosis, bombs, physical force and good old-fashioned scamming to achieve their objective, in this increasingly loony escapade.

    As I watched Dortmunder & Co. seemingly accomplish their impossible mission at the Brooklyn Museum in this film's first 1/2 hour, I found myself thinking, "This is too easy...and what is this movie going to do for another hour now?" Not to worry. "The Hot Rock" turns out to be what is essentially a quadruple heist film, only the object of the four heists is the same; "the habitual crime," as the understandably upset ambassador calls it, and indeed, viewers will be hard put to imagine what could possibly go wrong next. Redford is simply marvelous as the resourceful Dortmunder, a man whose cool exterior belies his incipient ulcers, and who is forced to keep popping tummy pills throughout the film, after his doctor tells him "Don't get into tense situations"! As it turned out, 1972 was a very good year for Redford, with three major films evenly spaced out during that time: "The Hot Rock" in January, "The Candidate" in June, and "Jeremiah Johnson" in December. And this viewer is secure enough in his heterosexuality to state that the man looks amazingly handsome here; the ladies should just love him in this picture! As for the rest of it, the film is often laugh-out-loud funny, its single most amusing line probably being Zero's "Eat your hearts out, you sappy bastards!" Director Peter Yates, who had been responsible for making 1968's "Bullitt" such a crackerjack success, works a similar magic here, and the film's score, by the legendary Quincy Jones, features contributions from such jazz luminaries as Gerry Mulligan, Clark Terry, Grady Tate and Chuck Rainey. The film also provides us with an overhead tour of lower Manhattan, as Murch pilots the quartet by helicopter, and thus we get to see, close up, the Twin Towers, in the process of being constructed. Seeing these two buildings on film has always been bittersweet since 9/11, but seeing them still in their formative state is more moving still. The bottom line, then, is that while "The Hot Rock" might not be as ingenious as some other heist films, is sure is unpredictable, funny, twisty and amusing. Redford, of course, would go on to appear as crooks in such films as "The Sting" (1973) and "Sneakers" (1992), but he has never been more ingratiating than he was here. Our sympathies are wholly with him and his criminal endeavor, and we hope against hope that Dortmunder will NOT be sent to jail again...and for life this time, as he tells Kelp. So DO Dortmunder and his cronies get away with their heist by the picture's end? I would never dream of telling (I've probably revealed too much already!), but let's just say that in a world where happiness is such a slippery goal, success can be as elusive as that darn hot rock....
  • There is always a risk with these 'period' pieces that it will become dated very easily with changing tastes & expectations. Fortunately, caper movies are still getting made ('Entrapment'), Redford is still a sex-symbol, & crime still pays. So 'Hot Rock' is as eminently watchable today as it was way back then, provided of course you don't start wondering too much about the plot. Ride Quincy Jones' music (Gerry Mulligan plays the sax) & Redford's easy charm & you are safe home.

    The performances all round are very muted, except the wonderful Zero Mostel's over-the-top crooked lawyer. At times you feel everybody is just too reluctant to get on with it, but I guess that is the kind of 'cool seventies' effect that director Yates was trying to get (& I feel, succeeded). Anyway Yates was riding high at this time with some great movies like Bullitt & Murphy's War & his confidence shows.
  • From the moment our hero Dortmunder (Robert Redford) is released from prison, that's good. But immediately he comes under attack and that's bad. Fortunately it's his Brother-in-law (George Segal) and that's good, who then offers him a job in a new crime caper and that's bad. However the man who hires them is called Dr. Amusa (Moses Gunn, superb character acting) is rich, and that's good, but he wants them to break into a top security Museum to steal an extremely valuable diamond worth millions and that's bad. However, since the doctor is willing to front all materials necessary to facilitate the theft, that's good, but once they enter the museum and get the precious stone, the thieves cannot seem to hang onto it and that's bad. Still, they are determined to retrieve the elusive gem and that's good. Throughout the movie, one cannot help rooting for the hapless thieves as their simple crime seems to take on a life of it's own and the hilarity of it all makes for a superb film which is destined to become a Classic. The cast of this film is exceptional as we have Ron Leibman playing Murch, Paul Sand as Greenberg and the incomparable Zero Mostel as Abe Greenburg. Altogether this movie is highly recommended to anyone in search of great entertainment. ****
  • SnoopyStyle31 January 2014
    Dortmunder (Robert Redford) just left prison and vows to not do another job. He's wrangled immediately by his sister's man Kelp (George Segal) to do a job. Dr. Amusa (Moses Gunn) is paying for the heist who claims the gem was stolen from the African people.

    The heist isn't sophisticated. There is a lot of Keystone Cops elements in this movie. It's cute bordering on funny. Dortmunder's frustration with Kelp's constant prodding is kind of funny. George Segal, Robert Redford, Paul Sand, and Ron Leibman make for the perfect antidote to the Ocean's movies. These guys make up for the lack of cool with an abundance of bumbling determination. Zero Mostel makes an appearance as Paul Sand's lawyer father. He has a bit fun. The movie is a bit of fun action from the early 70s.
  • willrams19 July 2003
    A valuable gem is in a museum in N.Y. which is of great value to Dr. Amas. played by Moses Gunn, who approaches Dortmund, played by Robert Redford, because of its significance to his people in Africa which was stolen in colonial times. Dortmund assebles a crack team of cat burglars and has an elaborate plan for stealing back the gem. Circumstances and plain bad luck are both hilarious and stupefying. Under the cool direction of Peter Yates, the cast is perfect including Zero Mostel, George Segal, Ron Leibman, Charlotte Rae. The title threw me off; could have been called something better. 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Something is missing in "The Hot Rock" that keeps it from being a great film. Perhaps several smaller things together keep it from being a top caper comedy. It surely is of that genre, but the comedy is quite weak. A sometimes funny script saves is from being a bomb.

    The idea for the plot is a superb one. Jewel thieves have to steal the same prize diamond again and again. The schemes to do so are entertaining. But the comedy in those situations seems forced. An example is when the gang attacks a neighborhood police precinct to retrieve the jewel from a jail cell. The various police characters were all set up in comedic roles from the start. So, that's a forced comedy situation that comes off more as a satire or parody of the New York police department than a clever and humorous attempted heist at a police precinct building. And as a parody, it's just not funny.

    Robert Redford's character, Dortmunder, seems an awful lot like Johnny Hooker in "The Sting." But this film plot is far from that of the next year's film. And, the far laid back, easy-going character that Redford has here just doesn't seem to fit the plot very well. The best roles in the film are played by George Segal as Kelp and Paul Sand as Greenberg. They also are the source of most of the comedy.

    The film had great possibilities, but it comes off as more lame and silly than as very good comedy as a caper. It's worth a watch, but not the price to buy or rent it. But for some occasional funny lines, "The Hot Rock" would be a washout.

    Here are a few good lines from the film. For more funny lines, see the Quotes section under this IMDb Web page of the movie.

    Dortmunder, "You're not being pushy?" Kelp, "I'm just edging you towards making a decision. There's a difference."

    Kelp, "You take failure too hard. I don't mind it so much anymore."

    Dr. Amusa, "I've heard of the habitual criminal, of course. But I never dreamed I'd become involved with the habitual crime."

    Greenberg (to his dad, Abe Greenberg, who has just sold out his son's gang), "Don't expect me for any more Sunday drives, dad."
  • alfiefamily17 February 2007
    Warning: Spoilers
    "The Hot Rock" is a pretty good caper film with an excellent cast, terrific musical score by Quincy Jones, and good use of New York City scenery (although during a recent viewing, as a New Yorker, it was difficult to watch the World Trade Center towers being constructed).

    Redford and Segal are good as a pair of friends who are connected by their work. Redford has no sooner gotten out of jail, when Segal starts telling him about their newest caper. They are to steal a diamond that belongs to one of the tribal nations of Africa.

    Ron Liebman and Paul Sand are enlisted as their co-conspirators, and both of them are quite good, especially Liebman, who can "drive anything.

    Naturally, everything goes wrong, and they are thrown one roadblock after another, in an attempt to get the diamond.

    A good film with moments of both great humor and no humor. Unsteady in its execution, but it still has a charm about it.

    Worth renting.

    6 out of 10
  • I saw this movie in its original theatrical release and have seen it again many times since. It is one of the funniest movies ever made. The script, the performances, the direction, and production are all outstanding. Redford's performance is as good as if not better than his efforts in Butch Cassidy and The Sting. Zero Mostel is as always delightful. The soundtrack, hip and jazzy, is perfect. What's not to like? A true gem of a comedy/drama. The high point of virtually all careers involved. Thanks to this review, I have learned that the movie's script was based on a novel, one of a series of novels, which I plan on reading.
  • When I first was planning to see the movie I didn't know what to expect. Although I knew one thing about it from the get go. Robert Redford is really good so this movie should at least be decent. I've never been one for action movies. Mostly for the reason that most of them don't have much of a plot and characters aren't usually well developed. This movie was full of action and they showed the characters pretty well. It had some funny moments and It was at least a good source of entertainment for the afternoon. It was entertaining until the end and was a classic movie about theft. I enjoyed it throughly and suggest it to anyone who enjoys some action in movies and wants a movie with some laughs.(Now don't mistake this as a comedy.)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This has many of the same ingredients of other heist films such as a rare diamond in a museum and the assorted characters needed to steal it but it's also unique in the way that they lose it and attempt to get it back. Story starts out with John Dortmunder (Robert Redford) getting released from prison and running into his brother in-law Andrew (George Segal) who tells him about the diamond "Sahara Stone" that's on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. An African ambassador named Dr. Amusa (Moses Gunn) wants to hire them to steal the diamond for him so that he can return it to it's rightful country but John warns him that this will be difficult.

    *****SPOILER ALERT***** John and Andrew also hire Alan (Paul Sand) who's good with explosives and Stan (Ron Leibman) who can drive anything from a truck to a helicopter and together they manage to get into the museum but things go wrong and Alan is forced to swallow the diamond before he is arrested. They must now attempt to break him out of jail and they succeed but he tells them that he doesn't have the rock anymore which leads to the four of them in a wild hunt across New York City and ends with Alan's father Abe (Zero Mostel) hiding it in a safety deposit box in a bank.

    This film is directed by Peter Yates (Bullitt) who during his career specialized in movies about unique characters such as police officers and thieves and had a knack to do it with a careful comedic touch. This is far from Yates best film but it's still indelibly his with rich characterizations and great scenic shots of New York City and in the helicopter scene there is a wonderful shot of the Twin Towers under construction. While the film is lightweight in nature it still has a script that is consistently humorous with the helicopter flight and the raid into the police precinct arguably being the highlight. Even though this film is over 30 years old (and God knows we have all seen our share of heist flicks) this somehow still remains a fun film to view with most of it's freshness still intact.
  • NAHNCEE19 April 2003
    Donald Westlake writes wonderful, funny caper novels. Elmore Leonard writes wonderful, funny caper novels. *Why* can't Hollywood do them better justice? "Get Shorty" was a wonderful, funny caper movie. "The Hot Rock" has potential, but just doesn't make it. Excrutiatingly long breaking into and breaking out of scenes. Really bad editing so you just don't know who's doing what. When producers take these sorts of books they should stick to the written word, and most especially the dialogue as written in the book. Westlake's characters are great in the book, and for the most part, the actors in this movie do them justice. But rather than film them climbing once more over a wall, or chicken-walking down a really long boring white hall -- let them talk. And let us hear them. Focus on the characters, and how they are unique. I don't *care* about prison walls or prison hospitals or how many doors lead into a bank vault.
  • peter-patti19 August 2007
    Okay okay, Westlake's novels are always much better than the respective movies (take for example "What's the Worst that Could Happen"), but I must admit that director Peter Yates did a really good job. Dortmunder (the author was inspired to this name by the German beer!) is not much like Donald Westlake's original in the Dortmunder books, along with some of the other characters. Redford is too handsome. George C. Scott in "Bank Shot" was much more Dortmunderish (Westlake's master-crook John Archibald Dortmunder is worn down and pessimistic), but in the "Hot Rock" movie Yates catches the 'Zeitgeist', or spirit of the times. And that's enough.

    Brilliant: Quincy Jones' soundtrack (with Gerry Mulligan playing the sax).
  • Dortmunder is just out of jail and his brother-in-law Kelp has a job lined up for them. It would seem that a guy called Dr. Amusa is desperate for a valuable sapphire that is of extreme significance to his African people. Of course it's in a highly secured museum, of course it's going to take great planning with a top trustworthy crew, and of course things are not going to go to plan!.

    Starring Robert Redford {Dortmund} and George Segal {Kelp} in the lead roles, and based on the Donald E. Westlake page turning novel, The Hot Rock has many good things going for it. Instead of a run of the mill crime caper we get a well scripted picture that has fun oozing from every frame. As the film progresses, our ensemble of crooks lurch from one bad luck scenario to another, it's impossible not to side with our charmingly unlucky thieves. Redford and Segal play off each other very well, some of the looks they share between each other are comedy gold on their own, both men apparently having fun with William Goldman's zippy screenplay. Amongst all the hilarity the picture has a cool 70s vibe to it, director Peter Yates finding a happy medium between comedy and crime drama, don't go in expecting a world beating piece of cinema and i'm sure you will enjoy this piece. 7/10
  • Warning: Spoilers
    When people discuss the films of Robert Redford I'm often surprised that no one ever seems to mention THE HOT ROCK. The film didn't do tremendous business at the box office but fans that have seen it love the film. It had a huge group of the most talented people involved in making it from screenwriter William Goldman who had written the screenplays for both HARPER and BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID to director Peter Yates who four years prior had made BULLITT. The cast included not just Redford but George Segal, Ron Leibman, Zero Mostel, Paul Sand and Moses Gunn. So why wasn't it a huge hit?

    For those who've never seen the movie it is based on the novel by Donald E. Westlake involving his character Dortmunder (Redford). Just getting out of prison as the film opens he's picked up by his brother in law Kelp (Segal). Even though he's sworn never to work with Kelp he can't help but be intrigued by a proposition he brings to him.

    The pair meet with Dr. Amusa (Gunn), a representative of an African nation that wants them to steal a priceless gem for them now on display in the Brooklyn Museum. The diamond was stolen from their country and for them this is a matter of honor. Amusa agrees to front them the money and supplies they will need.

    The pair recruit their team to accomplish the task: Stan Murch (Leibman) will be their driver and Allan Greenburg their explosive experts. The plan is laid out on how to steal the gem but continues to change. In addition to that the expenses continue to rise. And even when the final theft goes down complications place the gem in the most precarious of places. When you watch you'll find out where.

    The gem becomes available to them again but each time it comes within their grasps something else goes wrong to make it unavailable once more. Therein lies the biggest comedic take in the film, the elusiveness of the gem. Always within reach but not quite there.

    This comedy of circumstances has moments that might be belly laughs but plays more along the lines of a long number of chuckles instead. The combination of deft writing and superb acting on display here work so well together that you find yourself rooting for the thieves in spite of the fact that they are criminals. And the circumstances that take the jewel out of their hands off and on are hilarious when you think about them. None of them are things that the group could have predicted or done anything about. It is chance items that play into their dilemma.

    There isn't a bad performance to be seen here. Each and every actor is at the top of their game. Yates direction is perfect. Westlake's story and Goldman's script are marvelous. Now it's up to a new generation to discover how great the movie is. Fortunately Twilight Time has released the film on blu-ray and access to it returns. Extras on their edition include an isolated score track (composed by Quincy Jones), a commentary track featuring film historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman and the original theatrical trailer. As with all Twilight Times released it's limited to just 3,000 copies so make sure you get yours as soon as possible.
An error has occured. Please try again.