Greed, Gold bars & Goldie – Rediscovering ‘$’ (Dollars) – (US 1971 – 121 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - April 24, 2014
Greed, Gold bars & Goldie – Rediscovering ‘$’ (Dollars) – (US 1971 – 121 mins)

I’ve always enjoyed movies where the main character is seen working largely alone, quietly getting the job done. Good examples of this would be Burt Lancaster’s Resistance worker in ‘The Train’ (’64) and Alain Delon’s hit-man in ‘Le Samouraï’ (’67). One of my favourite films which encapsulates this is Richard Brooks’ superb, yet largely overlooked heist movie ‘$’. A thoroughly engrossing caper flick, it has Warren Beatty quietly and methodically getting one over on various criminal types.

Taking advantage of a German banks safety deposit boxes, security consultant and would-be criminal; Joe Collins (Warren Beatty), picks the wrong bank to steal from when he makes off with money deposited by various crooked agents, including a corrupt US army sergeant and various mobsters. Joe has been spying on the bank for some time and uses an elaborate plan in order to steal over $1.5 million. Joe has a call girl; Dawn Divine (Goldie Hawn) help create a diversion, by phoning in a bomb threat to the bank. Once evacuated, Joe’s security chief can now concentrate on carrying out his master plan. A long exciting chase begins when the various criminals realise that their deposit boxes have been emptied, and as they cannot report this to the police, they must pursue the thief themselves. It appears a couple of these crooks have connections to Dawn’s prostitute, and are able to find clues that link her to Joe Collins. The films final half hour is taken up by a lengthy, exciting chase sequence, which takes place on foot, car and rail, before coming to its very satisfying conclusion.

Filmed mostly on location in Hamburg, this long but entertaining film never bores you, even at its two hour running time. 26 year old Goldie Hawn (who didn’t think much of this movie) is a total delight as kooky call girl; Dawn Devine, and brings her energetic, likable personality to the part, and is a lot of fun to watch. Other notable supporting roles went to Robert Webber as a crooked attorney, TV tough-guy Scott Brady as the corrupt army sergeant, and former Bond villain Gert Fröbe as the gold-loving bank president.

Writer/Director Richard Brooks was a highly regarded film-maker, known mostly for his heavy subject matter, making such master works as ‘The Blackboard Jungle’ (’55), and the harrowing ‘In Cold Blood’ (’67). With ‘$’ Brooks showed that he could also handle action scenes with a great degree of flare. He had proved this a few years earlier with his fabulous 1966 actioner ‘The Professionals’.

‘$’ is a masterful heist movie, greatly aided by a snappy Quincy Jones score. I think it remains one of the decade’s most under-rated thrillers, with enough twists and turns to enthral, and keep most viewers hooked on the rather simplistic story.

Incidentally, Warren Beatty’s character; Joe Collins, is the same name as Burt Lancaster’s character in the excellent prison drama ‘Brute Force’ (’47), which was also scripted by Brooks.

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