The Hot Rock (film)
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|The Hot Rock|
|Directed by||Peter Yates|
|Produced by||Hal Landers
|Screenplay by||William Goldman|
|Based on||novel by
Donald E. Westlake
|Music by||Quincy Jones|
|Cinematography||Edward R. Brown|
|Editing by||Frank P. Keller
Fred W. Berger
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
|Running time||105 minutes|
|Box office||$3.5 million (US/Canada rentals)|
The Hot Rock is a 1972 comedy-drama caper film directed by Peter Yates from a screenplay by William Goldman, based on Donald E. Westlake's novel of the same name, which introduced his long-running John Dortmunder character. The film stars Robert Redford, George Segal, Ron Leibman, Paul Sand, Moses Gunn and Zero Mostel.
After Dortmunder (Redford) is released from his latest stint in prison, he is approached by his brother-in-law, Andy Kelp (Segal), about another job. Dr. Amusa (Gunn) seeks a valuable gem in the Brooklyn Museum that is of great significance to his people in his country in Africa, stolen during colonial times and then re-stolen by various African nations on multiple occasions since.
Dortmunder and Kelp are joined by driver Stan Murch (Leibman) and explosives expert Allan Greenberg (Sand) and concoct an elaborate plan for stealing the gem. Although the scheme (and each subsequent one) basically works, something always seems to go awry, and the quartet has to steal the diamond again and again.
First off, the diamond is swallowed by Greenberg when he alone gets caught by the police during the initial heist. After Greenberg tells his partners where he hid the rock in the police precinct jail (after bodily disposing it), the quartet attempt a heist at the precinct. But the rock is nowhere to be found.
It is later discovered that Greenberg's father Abe (Mostel), a dishonest lawyer who bailed his son out of jail, was the only other person who knew where it was. It isn't until Murch, disguised as the muscle man "Chicken," threatens Abe with being thrown down an elevator shaft that Abe gives up the location of the diamond.
After a series of bluffs, Abe Greenberg reveals that he put the diamond in his safe deposit box and has made his own deal to sell the gem to Dr. Amusa, which will leave Dortmunder's gang with nothing. Dr. Amusa fires Dortmunder for his incompetence.
However, with the help of a hypnotist by the name of Miasmo, Dortmunder invokes the predetermined hypnotic trigger word "Afghanistan-Bananastan" to a bank employee. He is then able to gain access to Abe's safe deposit box and retrieve the gem just after the bank opens in the morning.
As Dortmunder exits the bank, Abe and Dr. Amusa arrive at the bank but do not see him in the crowd. Dortmunder climbs into a car where the others are waiting and a rousing cheer erupts as they drive off.
- Robert Redford as Dortmunder
- George Segal as Kelp
- Ron Leibman as Murch
- Paul Sand as Greenberg
- Moses Gunn as Dr. Amusa
- Zero Mostel as Abe Greenberg
The opening scene, depicting a conversation between Dortmunder and the warden upon Dortmunder's release, is based on a scene edited out of Goldman's screenplay for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The origin was a real discussion between Butch Cassidy and the governor of Wyoming when Cassidy was released from prison, which Goldman uncovered when he was researching the prior screenplay.
One scene depicts the gang flying by helicopter through Manhattan to break into a police station. During this footage, the helicopter flies by the World Trade Center. The south tower was still under construction when this film was shot.
Actor and director Christopher Guest makes his first film appearance in a small part as a police officer.
The music was composed by Quincy Jones.
Four more of the Donald E. Westlake Dortmunder series have been filmed (with the character renamed in most instances), beginning with Bank Shot (1974) starring George C. Scott, and followed by Jimmy the Kid (1982) starring Paul Le Mat (followed by a 1999 German remake); Why Me? (1990) starring Christopher Lambert; and What's the Worst That Could Happen? (2001) starring Martin Lawrence.
- Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p256
- Solomon p232. Please note figures are rentals not total gross.