The Hot Rock is a lighter fare- an affable caper film with a sense of humor.
It does not live up to some of the works before (Bullitt 1968) and after (The Friends of Eddie Coyle 1973) from Peter Yates.
One of the numerous pairings of screenwriter William Goldman and Robert Redford (as much a shrewd seeker of good material as a talented actor) that includes Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All the President’s Men, The Great Waldo Pepper, A Bridge Too Far.
Some of Yates biggest cinematic flourishes are early in the film. He has a very nice composition as George Segal and Redford meet with the Moses Gunn character on the Central Park bench. Yates uses the entire 2.39 : 1 frame here. Early on Yates also has a great camera zoom in on Redford between the fence bars (he just got out of prison) at the 13-minute mark.
Redford is mostly suited to the material here (he plays it straight, while talented comedians like Zero Mostel and Segal act around him)—but in one scene he is expected to display his acumen and brilliance as a thief and gets intense with a short monologue and it just doesn’t work for Redford. He just can’t flick that switch on like a Dustin Hoffman or Robert De Niro could.
The light banter (joking about candy) during the heist is Butch Cassidy for sure.
Hilarious ineptitude of these criminals (think Bottle Rocket) in set pieces like the Brooklyn Museum, the prison, and police station.
A big reason to seek out The Hot Rock is Quincy Jones’ score. Yates worked with Lalo Schifrin on Bullitt– so he had a type: genre films swathed in jazz music.
I do like Redford contagious smile victory lap finale on the New York City sidewalks
Recommend but not terribly close to the top 10 of 1972
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