The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery

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The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery
Lobby card
Directed by Charles Guggenheim
John Stix
Produced by Charles Guggenheim
Written by Richard T. Heffron
Starring Steve McQueen
Music by Bernardo Segall
Cinematography Victor Duncan
Edited by Warren Adams
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • September 10, 1959 (1959-09-10) (United States)
Running time
89 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery (also called The St. Louis Bank Robbery, the film title in the opening credits) is a 1959 heist film shot in black and white. The film stars Steve McQueen as a college dropout hired to be the getaway driver in a bank robbery. The film is based on a 1953 bank robbery attempt of Southwest Bank in St. Louis. The film was shot on location in St. Louis in 1958 with some of the men and women from the St. Louis Police Department, as well as local residents and bank employees, playing the same parts they did in the actual robbery attempt.[1]

The film is now in the public domain.


Steve McQueen in The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery

George Fowler (Steve McQueen) shows himself as an ex-football hero. He finds himself slowly drawn into the world of gangsters. With the gang in need of just another $50, George asks his ex-girlfriend, Ann, for a check in that amount, supposedly for her brother Gino. The plan starts to unravel when she sees Gino coming out of a restaurant across the street from the bank. When questioned about it, George later reveals he's involved with robbing the bank. She writes "Warning" and beneath that "you will be robbed!" with lipstick on a bank window, but the bank takes it as a joke. As the day of the heist approaches, tensions within the gang increase with no one trusting anyone. The robbers, having seen the lipstick warning, burst into George's and Gino's apartment that night and demand to know who talked to the girl about the robbery. Gino breaks about his sister's talking to George. George goes to her apartment with the gang and talks her into going to Chicago. Gino and George go to a park and wait. While Willie and John are taking her down the fire escape, John gets fidgety and hurls her off the escape down to the street below. They return to George and Gino, saying nothing about the murder. The next day, the robbery is attempted as planned. Meanwhile, the bank has moved the switchboard, previously inside the bank, downstairs to what seems to be a better control room. The robbers, who were planning to disable the switchboard, are unaware of this move. John distrusts George and compels Willie to drive, instead of George, who will now be inside robbing the bank even though it's his first time on any illegal job. The robbery goes as planned, until George can't find the switchboard they wanted to disable. The switchboard downstairs calls the police and they send a squad car over to the bank. When the police arrive, the robbery goes wrong. John is killed while trying to escape with a hostage and Gino commits suicide in the vaults. Willie flees with the car, leaving his partners behind. George gets shot in the leg. He tries to escape with a female hostage, the woman's husband offering himself instead. As the wife is in his headlock, his arm aiming the gun at her husband, she says: - It's no use, he's vicious. Realizing just how far he went, George relaxes his grip and falls to the ground, muttering how he isn't 'vicious'. George is taken away, his last sight looking out the bars of the car.


  • Steve McQueen as George Fowler
  • Crahan Denton as John Egan, the boss
  • David Clarke as Gino, Ann's brother
  • James Dukas as Willie, the driver
  • Mollie McCarthy as Ann, George's ex-girlfriend and sister of Gino
  • Martha Gable as Eddie's wife
  • Larry Gerst as Eddie

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