Title: The Brink’s Job
Release Date: December 8, 1978
Director: William Friedkin
Production Company: Universal Pictures
This is a movie I’ve been meaning to watch for some time because it’s set in Boston and based on the true-life “Crime of the Century” Brink’s Robbery in 1950. The movie is directed by William Friedkin, shortly after his back-to-back hits with The French Connection and The Exorcist. I’d say The Brink’s Job is stylistically different for Friedkin, however since these are the only three Friedkin movies I’ve watched I can’t make that assertion. What I do know is that for a cantankerous guy, this was a rare occasion when Friedkin attempted to make a comedy. While there are some funny aspects to the Brink’s Robbery, the films attempt to make the robbers a bumbling gang when they really weren’t doesn’t quite work.
Where this film does work is a period piece. I’m particularly impressed by the location shooting in Boston that makes the city in 1978 look like the city in the 1940s and 1950s. The cast is also strong, lead by Peter Falk as the lockpick Tony Pino. Peter Boyle plays the shady fence Joe McGinnis and Warren Oates is great as the unstable Specs O’Keefe (although for some reason he’s never wearing the glasses the real life figure was known for). Allen Garfield and Paul Sorvino fill out the gang.
I’d say that everything up to the heist (about 3/4’s of the film) is really well done with some great moments of real tension. After the robbery, the film blows through about 6 years of loose threads without any real narrative focus, until the gang is finally rounded up days before the statute of limitations expired. The finale is good, though.
There are a lot of books about the Brinks Robbery, and one that I enjoyed was The Crime of the Century by Stephanie Schorow.