Tuesday, November 1, 2022

#2,855. The Brink's Job (1978) - Kino Lorber Releases


During the first ten minutes of William Friedkin’s 1978 film The Brink’s Job, we tag along with Boston safecracker Tony Pino (Peter Falk) and his crew: Sandy Richardson (Gerald Murphy); Stanley “Gus” Gusciora (Kevin O’Connor); and Tony’s brother-in-law Vinnie (Allen Garfield), as they break into an office and attempt to open a safe.

They aren’t what you would call good criminals. They make a lot of noise and, before they can get the safe open, are surprised by the police. What this opening scene does, and does well, is set the tone, the perfect balance of crime and comedy that is to follow.

More than this, it introduces us to the film’s main characters. And we like them! We don’t even know much about them, except that they’re lousy crooks, but we like them all the same. And by the time The Brink’s Job is over, we’ll absolutely love them!

Tony is the only one pinched by the cops during the above break-in, and is sent away for six years. When he’s released, it’s 1944, and World War II is still raging. He and Vinnie spend their days running a diner, which is doing ok business. But Tony is itching to get back to a life of crime and start making some real money again.

As with before, the heists he lines up are less than successful. Until, one afternoon, while he and Vinnie are out walking, they pass the Brinks Armored Car company, and catch a glimpse of all the cash they move on a daily basis.

With the help of his regular crew as well as newcomers Joe McGinnis (Peter Boyle), Specs O’Keefe (Warren Oates), and Jazz Maffie (Paul Sorvino), Tony plans and executes what would be, to that point, the biggest robbery in U.S. history. But with the cops, the FBI, and J. Edgar Hoover (Sheldon Leonard) breathing down his neck, it’s anyone’s guess if he’ll ever get a chance to spend a dime of the nearly $2 million he stole!

Friedkin and his team do their part to make The Brink’s Job an entertaining picture. Shot on-location in Boston (the Brinks heist is staged in the very building where, 30 years earlier, the real-life robbery that inspired it took place), the film has a realistic vibe, with Friedkin utilizing the same camera techniques and general style that gave The French Connection its almost documentary feel.

The film would also be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction, which, in unison with the production design, costumes, even the music, convinces us we’ve gone back in time to the ‘30s, ‘40s and early ‘50s. On top of this, the film is wonderfully paced, and the later scenes, when the story takes a few dark turns, gel nicely with the earlier comedic sequences.

That said, it’s the cast that makes The Brink’s Job so damn endearing. Peter Falk is in top form as the less-than-talented crook who stumbles into a gold mine; the scenes where Tony is scoping out the Brink’s facility had me poised on the edge of my seat. Allen Garfield gets his share of laughs as the hapless Vinnie, the biggest of which comes during a gumball factory robbery. Warren Oates is also good as the slightly unhinged Specs, a former soldier who fought on the beaches of Normandy, and both Peter Boyle and Paul Sorvino make for convincing crooks. Together, each and every one, as well as Murphy, O’Conner and Gina Rowlands (as Tony’s wife, Mary), win us over, and we root like hell for them to not only pull off the crime of the century, but to get away with it!

Friedkin considers The Brink’s Job to be one of his lesser films, commenting that it featured “Little intensity or suspense”, and the comedy was an “acquired taste”. “The film doesn’t shout, it doesn’t sing”, he would write in his autobiography, “it barely whispers”. Well, as far as I’m concerned, that was one hell of a whisper! The Brink’s Job fires on all cylinders, and is flat-out fun.
Rating: 9 out of 10

No comments: