Crackers (1984 film)

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Theatrical Poster
Directed byLouis Malle
Produced byRobert Cortes
Edward Lewis
Written byJeffrey Fiskin
Music byPaul Chihara
Michael McDonald (theme song "More Than We Need")
CinematographyLászló Kovács
Edited bySuzanne Baron
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
17 February 1984
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$129,268

Crackers is a 1984 American comedy crime film directed by Louis Malle. It was entered into the 34th Berlin International Film Festival.[1]

Written by Jeffrey Fiskin, the film is about a group of small-time out-of-luck thieves, led by the unemployed Weslake (Donald Sutherland), who attempt to rob the neighborhood pawn shop owned by the greedy Garvey (Jack Warden). It's a remake of the Italian film Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958) directed by Mario Monicelli.[2]


The action is set in San Francisco during the 1980s. Weslake, who was laid off from his job, is working in a low-paying position at Garvey's pawn shop. Weslake has one friend nicknamed 'Turtle' who's homeless and is seen throughout the whole film searching for something to eat.

One day, Dillard, who is an amateur musician, and Ramon, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who lives with his sister Maria, come to Garvey's shop. The purpose of their visit is to buy off a guitar pawned earlier by Dillard; because both have little money they're offering the pawn shop owner a stolen car radio, but it's not enough for Garvey. Instead, he offers Dillard a deal: he wants Dillard to install an alarm system in his shop (as Dillard is an electrician). Dillard is not thrilled by the deal but Ramon convinces him, arguing that when the alarm system is installed, Garvey may have enough confidence to leave the shop (he normally stays in it, since he lives there) and they may then get an opportunity to break in and get the guitar back.

Their conversation is heard by a 'Boardwalk', a pimp who was just left by his girlfriend with his small child. He tells Weslake that he should report the plans of Dillard and Ramon to Garvey, but Weslake realizes that when the new alarm system is installed, Garvey may no longer find it necessary to employ him, and he will be broke again. Because of this Weslake doesn't inform his employer of the planned robbery, and instead joins Dillard, Ramon Boardwalk and Turtle in their attempted robbery. He becomes the brain of the whole operation, designing a plan for breaking into the large safe in the pawn shop.

The opportunity comes very soon, as Garve announces that he's leaving the shop because of a planned visit to his old mother. The group then puts their plan into action (albeit with many troubles along the way), eventually finding out that the big vault which is supposed to be full of goods is empty, because Garvey wasn't keeping anything inside it for years. The whole story has a good ending, however. As Garvey is coming back drunk in the middle of the night (since his mother died when he went to see her), he meets the would-be robbers inside his store. Surprisingly, he doesn't realize that they intended to rob him, and instead is happy that in this sad time he's surrounded by "friends".



  1. ^ "Berlinale: 1984 Programme". Retrieved 2010-11-26.
  2. ^ closing credits of the film

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