The Olsen Gang (Danish: Olsen-banden, Norwegian: Olsenbanden, German: Die Olsenbande, Swedish: Jönssonligan) is a fictional Danish criminal gang in the eponymous film series. The gang's leader is the criminal genius and habitual offender Egon Olsen and his accomplices are Benny and Kjeld (Kjell in Norwegian). The gang members are harmless and never use violence. A Norwegian version of the film series was also made (a total of 14 films from 1969 to 1999), in most cases based directly on the scripts for the Danish films.
Later, starting in 1981, Sweden also produced their own version: Jönssonligan.
- 1 Plot
- 2 Characters
- 3 International versions
- 4 Danish films
- 5 Animated feature-length Danish films
- 6 Norwegian films
- 7 Unofficial English translation of Danish and Norwegian titles
- 8 References
- 9 External links
Most of the films start with Egon coming out of jail and being enthusiastically welcomed by Benny and Kjeld. The three men will then have a beer together in the living room of Kjeld's dilapidated home in a run-down Valby neighbourhood. Egon will inform his friends of his latest plan for making them all millionaires (for example, eluding an alarm system to steal some crown jewels that happen to be on display in Copenhagen) and instruct them to provide the necessary equipment. The plans usually feature everyday artefacts such as Lego, party balloons, cigarettes etc., which are combined to work like Rube Goldberg machines, and clever social engineering. Bennys main function in the heists, besides get-away-driver, is as keeper of "The Thing", a metal bottle opener used for manipulating machinery. Egon often serves time with lawyers or executives who provide him with the information he needs, such as duty rosters for the national public record office.
Egon's plans often bring the gang into perilously close contact with white-collar criminals from the Danish business (and political) elite. For example, in one episode some well-connected people try to make money out of the so-called "butter mountain", a huge amount of butter bought up and stored by the EEC (now the EU) to keep prices up. Egon Olsen learns about this from a lawyer who is serving prison time, and the gang interferes with the plan to secure the millions for themselves. But as always, Egon – after having succeeded with a genius plan – loses because he underestimates the power and unscrupulousness of these people. For several movies the role of antagonist was filled by CEO Hallandsen of Hallandsen inc.
Egon is usually arrested in the end because the police cannot get to the "big fish" and have to find a scapegoat. Superintendent Jensen (Hermansen in Norwegian) tells his younger colleague, inspector Holm: "The only thing the police can do when the real big criminals come by is offer them protection!" Jensen incredously uses the recurring exclamation "Bagmændene!" (Behind-men/Big Fishes) to reference the in-joke of powerful players moving outside of the law. This kind of social satire is one of the defining features of the Olsen Gang films.
In the early episodes, harsh language and soft-erotica (temptingly dressed women) were more freely used than in later versions, which were censored to suit youngsters. Later movies focused on the satirical interplay between Jensen and Holm and Egon and Kjeld, with a frequent outburst of anger from either Olsen or superintendent Jensen.
Recurring characters in the Danish version:
Egon Olsen: expert safecracker.
Benny Jensen: get-away driver.
Kjeld: tool master.
Yvonne: Kjelds wife.
Børge: Kjelds son.
Jensen: Superintendent at Copenhagen Police.
Holm: detective with Copenhagen Police.
Hallandsen: Copenhagen based matador with international contacts.
King and Knight(Kongen og Knægten): a confidence trickster and his violent nephew.
Bøffen(the Beef): enforcer for Hallandsen and others.
Hansen: rival gang leader with theme music from Bob le flambeur.
The Olsen Gang have been made in Norwegian and Swedish (Jönssonligan) versions too. The films differ a bit from each other, but they follow a generally similar formula to the Danish films. The original, Danish films were popular in the former GDR and Eastern Europe.
The film series also has another character, 'Dynamite Harry', as the little brother of Benny Frandsen, which is also featured on the Norwegian rendition of the episodes – is the demolition expert (although his nerves are very easily shaken due to years of having dealt with explosives and alcohol). Harry made an appearance in six Norwegian films, played by Harald Heide-Steen Jr.. He also appeared in two early Danish Olsen Gang films, then played by Preben Kaas. In the Swedish Jönssonligan series Harry showed up in the second film, and became a regular member of the gang from the next installment on, since the actor who played the original member, a Finn named Rocky, was fired. In the Swedish version, Egon was replaced by Charles-Ingvar "Sickan" Jönsson, with a slightly different costume and mannerisms, and in later films when the actor Gösta Ekman got tired of the character, yet other leaders, who never became as popular as "Sickan". Benny's part was taken by "(Ragnar) Vanheden", a small-timer from Stockholm.
The first thirteen films were directed by Erik Balling, while Tom Hedegaard and Morten Arnfred directed the fourteenth and final Olsen Gang film. The scripts were written by Balling and Henning Bahs, who also worked as a production designer.
|English title (Original title)||Release date||Notes|
|The Olsen Gang (Olsen-banden)||October 11, 1968|
|The Olsen Gang in a Fix (Olsen-banden på spanden)||October 3, 1969|
|The Olsen Gang in Jutland (Olsen-banden i Jylland)||October 8, 1971|
|The Olsen Gang's Big Score (Olsen-bandens store kup)||October 6, 1972|
|The Olsen Gang Runs Amok (Olsen-banden går amok)||October 5, 1973|
|The Last Exploits of the Olsen Gang (Olsen-bandens sidste bedrifter)||October 4, 1974||This was intended to be the last movie at the time it was made.|
|The Olsen Gang on the Track (Olsen-banden på sporet)||September 26, 1975|
|The Olsen Gang Sees Red (Olsen-banden ser rødt)||October 1, 1976||This movie contains the famous showdown scene in which the gang bombs, drills, and hammers its way through the basement of the Royal Danish Theatre in synchronicity with the music of Friedrich Kuhlau's overture to the opera Elverhøj.|
|The Olsen Gang Outta Sight (Olsen-banden deruda')||September 30, 1977|
|The Olsen Gang Goes to War (Olsen-banden går i krig)||October 6, 1978|
|The Olsen Gang Never Surrenders (Olsen-banden overgiver sig aldrig)||October 26, 1979|
|The Olsen Gang's Escape over the Fence (Olsen-bandens flugt over plankeværket)||October 16, 1981|
|Olsen-banden over alle bjerge (The Olsen Gang Long Gone)||December 26, 1981|
|The Olsen Gang's Last Trick (Olsen-bandens sidste stik)||December 18, 1998||The actor in the role as "Kjeld Jensen", Poul Bundgaard, dies while filming the last movie. The actor Tommy Kenter steps in to fill his role to finish the film. In the film you do not see that this has happened because of the technique used to cover up.|
- Ove Sprogøe as Egon Olsen
- Morten Grunwald as Benny Frandsen
- Poul Bundgaard as Kjeld Jensen
- Kirsten Walther as Yvonne Jensen
- Jes Holtsø as Børge Jensen
- Axel Strøbye as Superintendent of police Jensen
- Ole Ernst as Police inspector Holm
- Ove Verner Hansen as Bøffen
- Preben Kaas as Dynamite-Harry
- Peter Steen as Hallandsen
Animated feature-length Danish films
- The Olsen Gang Gets Polished (2010)
- The Olsen Gang in Deep Trouble (2013)
- Olsenbanden Operasjon Egon (1969)
- Olsenbanden og Dynamitt-Harry (1970)
- Olsenbanden tar gull (1972)
- Olsenbanden og Dynamitt-Harry går amok (1973)
- Olsenbanden møter Kongen og Knekten (1974)
- Olsenbandens siste bedrifter (1975)
- Olsenbanden for full musikk (1976)
- Olsenbanden og Dynamitt-Harry på sporet (1977)
- Olsenbanden og Data-Harry sprenger verdensbanken (1978)
- Olsenbanden mot nye høyder (1979)
- Olsenbanden gir seg aldri (1981)
- Olsenbandens aller siste kupp (1982)
- …men Olsenbanden var ikke død (1984)
- Olsenbandens siste stikk (1999)
Several elements recur in the films series. You can note the main sponsor by looking at the villain's cars, the security cars, the police cars, the gang's car, and so on. Usually, Toyota has been the main sponsor of the film series, supplying the films with civilian cars parked on the sidewalks, Crowns as taxis, Toyota Cressida as police cars, Hiace as security vans and money transports, and so on. There have been exceptions, notably Olsenbandens aller siste kupp (The Olsen-Gangs very last coup) from 1982, which was sponsored by Datsun.
Most of the Norwegian films have been digitally restored. The discs include English & Norwegian Subtitles, 16:9 format and Dolby Digital 1.0 surround sound.
DVD Release List:
- Olsenbanden Operasjon Egon (27.10.2004)
- Olsenbanden og Dynamitt-Harry (27.10.2004)
- Olsenbanden tar gull (27.10.2004)
- Olsenbanden og Dynamitt-Harry går amok
- Olsenbanden møter Kongen og Knekten (01.12.2004)
- Olsenbandens siste bedrifter (01.12.2004)
- Olsenbanden for full musikk (01.12.2004)
- Olsenbanden og Dynamitt-Harry på sporet (08.12.2004)
- Olsenbanden og Data-Harry sprenger verdensbanken (19.01.2005)
- Olsenbanden mot nye høyder (19.01.2005)
- Olsenbanden gir seg aldri (19.01.2005)
- Olsenbandens aller siste kupp (19.01.2005)
- …men Olsenbanden var ikke død
- Olsenbandens siste stikk (1999)
- Arve Opsahl as Egon Olsen
- Sverre Holm as Benny Fransen
- Carsten Byhring as Kjell Jensen
- Aud Schønemann as Valborg Jensen
- Willie Hoel as Bartender Hansen
- Ove Verner Hansen as Biffen
- Pål Johannessen as Basse Jensen (appears in eight films)
- Sverre Wilberg as Superintendent of police Hermansen
- Øivind Blunck, Oddbjørn Hesjevoll and Ulf Wengård as Police inspector Holm (Blunck appears in five films, and Hesjevoll and Wengård one film each respectively)
- Harald Heide-Steen Jr. as Dynamite-Harry
Unofficial English translation of Danish and Norwegian titles
|Olsen Banden||The Olsen Gang|
|Olsen Banden på spanden||The Olsen Gang in trouble|
|Olsen Banden i Jylland||The Olsen Gang in Jutland|
|Olsen Bandens store kup||The Olsen Gang's grand burglary|
|Olsen Banden går amok||The Olsen Gang Goes Crazy|
|Olsen Bandens sidste bedrifter||The Olsen Gang's last(latest) accomplishments|
|Olsen Banden på sporet||The Olsen Gang on the (rail)track|
|Olsen Banden ser rødt||The Olsen Gang snaps (sees red)|
|Olsen Banden deruda'||The Olsen Gang full speed ahead|
|Olsen Banden går i krig||The Olsen Gang goes to war|
|Olsen Banden overgiver sig aldrig||The Olsen Gang never surrenders|
|Olsen Bandens flugt over plankeværket||The Olsen Gang's escape over the fence|
|Olsen Banden over alle bjerge||The Olsen Gang long gone|
|Olsen Bandens sidste stik||The Olsen Gang's last trick (as in cards) or last sting|
|Original title||Official English title||Translated directly||Translated contextually|
|Olsenbanden: Operasjon Egon||The Olsen Gang: Operation Egon||The Olsen Gang: Operation Egon|
|Olsenbanden og Dynamitt-Harry||The Olsen Gang and Dynamite-Harry||The Olsen Gang and Dynamite-Harry|
|Olsenbanden tar gull||The Olsen Gang takes gold||The Olsen Gang wins (title is a pun, since the gang literally "takes gold" in the movie)|
|Olsenbanden og Dynamitt-Harry går amok||The Olsen Gang and Dynamite Harry run amuck||The Olsen Gang and Dynamite Harry run amuck||The Olsen Gang and Dynamite Harry run amuck|
|Olsenbanden møter Kongen og Knekten||The Olsen Gang meets the king and the jack||The Olsen Gang meets The King and The Jack (The King and The Jack being the handles of the movie's villains)|
|Olsenbandens siste bedrifter||The Olsen Gang's last accomplishments||The Olsen Gang's last accomplishments|
|Olsenbanden for full musikk||The Olsen Gang for full music||Totally Olsen Gang (title is a pun, as music plays a rather important part in the movie)|
|Olsenbanden og Dynamitt-Harry på sporet||The Olsen Gang and Dynamite-Harry on the track||The Olsen Gang and Dynamite-Harry on the track ("track" here referring to a railroad track. Title is again a pun)|
|Olsenbanden og Data-Harry sprenger verdensbanken||The Olsen Gang and Data-Harry blow up the World Bank||The Olsen Gang and Computer-Harry rob the World Bank|
|Olsenbanden og Dynamitt-Harry mot nye høyder||The Olsen Gang and Dynamite-Harry towards new heights||The Olsen Gang and Dynamite-Harry towards new heights|
|Olsenbanden gir seg aldri||The Olsen Gang never gives up||The Olsen Gang never gives up|
|Olsenbandens aller siste kupp||The Olsen Gang's very last coup||The Olsen Gang's very last burglary|
|...men Olsenbanden var ikke død||...but the Olsen Gang wasn't dead||The return of the Olsen Gang.|
|Olsenbandens siste stikk||The Olsen Gang's last match||The Olsen Gang's last trick (as in cards) or last sting|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Olsen-banden.|
- Olsenbandenfanclub Deutschland (Olsen Gang Fan Club Germany)
- Olsenbande-Drehorte (Olsen Gang Film-Locations)
- German Olsen Gang Fansite
- Some of the original Danish trailers
- IMDB on the original Danish film