Robbery (1967)

  • Year: 1967
  • Released: 22 Sep 1967
  • Country: United Kingdom
  • Adwords: 1 nomination
  • IMDb:
  • Rotten Tomatoes:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: English
  • Genre: Crime, Drama, Mystery
  • Runtime: 110 min
  • Writer: Edward Boyd, Peter Yates, George Markstein
  • Director: Peter Yates
  • Cast: Stanley Baker, Joanna Pettet, James Booth
  • Keywords: based on true story, based on a true story, cult film, noir, train robbery,

Robbery Storyline

A dramatization of the Great Train Robbery. While not a ‘how to’, it is very detail dependent, showing the care and planning that took place to pull it off.

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Robbery Movie Reviews

Engrossing heist thriller

ROBBERY is yet another British heist film, heavily influenced by the real-life Great Train Robbery which filled headlines a few years previously. Director Peter Yates, of BULLITT fame, does a good job handling the proceedings, injecting the requisite suspense and yes, there’s another decent car chase here too. The ensemble cast is spearheaded by a typically tough and taciturn Stanley Baker and features solid turns from the likes of Barry Foster, George Sewell and Frank Finlay. The robbery takes up the second half and is handled realistically with a minimum of intrusive music, and the whole thing is quite engrossing.

Cracking British crime thriller

A group of criminals led by sly mastermind Paul Clifton (an excellent performance by Stanley Baker) devise an intricate plan to rob the Royal Mail train on its route from Glasgow to London.

Director Peter Yates, who also co-wrote the intelligent script with Edward Boyd and George Markstein, relates the gripping true story at a steady pace, generates plenty of tension, maintains a serious no-nonsense tone throughout, adroitly uses a plain no-frills documentary style that grounds the premise in an utterly credible workaday reality, covers in fascinatingly meticulous detail the precise planning of the heist, and stages both an exciting car chase and the thrilling robbery itself with utmost skill and aplomb. The ace acting from the tip-top cast rates as another substantial asset: Joanna Pettet as Clifton’s fed-up wife Kate, James Booth as the shrewd and determined Inspector George Langdon, Frank Finlay as timid banker Robinson, Barry Foster as smartaleck driver Frank, William Marlowe as the pragmatic Dave Aitken, and George Sewell as the greedy Ben. Kudos are also in order for Douglas Slocombe’s crisp cinematography and John Keating’s spare, yet still stirring and spirited score. An on the money film.

Precision and Speed.

British Peter Yates drove race cars before becoming a director and turning out some pedestrian work and a couple of respectable films, including this one and “Bullitt.” Steve McQueen, another racing aficionado, having seen the spectacular car chase through the streets of London in this film, invited Yates to direct him in “Bullitt” the following year, and there is a certain concordance between the two. “Bullitt” (1968) is superior. The interrelationships are more subtle, the musical score more apt. The score in “Robbery” shrieks “generic thriller” and lacks anything like the sophistication of the flute trio in San Francisco’s chic Coffee Cantata. And if the car chase in “Robbery” is thrilling — and it is — the high speed pursuit in “Bullitt” provides a touchstone for all the car chases that followed, from “The Seven Ups” to “The French Connection.” There was never anything like it before.

Basically, “Robbery” has Stanley Baker in charge of one of those gangs consisting of specialists, one expert in electronics, another in laundering, another who knows how to be a locomotive engineer, and so forth. The heist of more than three million pounds from the Royal Mail train is tense, engaging, and a little confusing. The confusion is compensated for by the many times we see references to “Royal Mail,” which sounds infinitely better than “U. S. Postal Service.” “Royal Mail.” It doth roll trippingly from the tongue.

No guns are displayed or used, in contrast to “Bullitt”, and even in the later film there are only two brief scenes involving gunplay. The fact is that guns aren’t always necessary in robberies like the one described here. Imagine, two freaky looking dudes wearing black ski masks and threatening you with crowbars tell you to drive a locomotive at 20 miles per hour, and you’re a balding, near-sighted, middle-aged man. Are you going to drive that locomotive at the speed requested? You bet you are. “No guns,” orders Stanley Baker. “They don’t use them so we won’t either.” On the other hand, “Bullitt” was made in America for an American audience and the final shot is of a .38 caliber police revolver in its holster, wrapped in its shoulder harness, lying on the bathroom sink, all coiled up like a rattlesnake.

“Robbery” is a caper movie. The police are always just one step behind the gang. The gang’s hideout is at a now deserted and dilapidated base called RAF Gravesley, a bomber base that once accommodated Halifaxes and Mosquitoes. It’s an eerie feeling to be in a once-populated and now empty community.

I had that experience at Fort Hancock, established during the Revolutionary War to guard New York harbor from the British. It was closed during the Cold War and all its personnel departed except for a handful of Coast Guardsmen, with whom I stayed for a summer. All the empty buildings were unlocked. The hospital staff had left its microscope slides carefully packed in drawers. There was the occasional pile of 20 mm. rounds, still intact. I had a similar feeling watching the scenes shot at RAF Gravesley. It was like being in an episode of The Twilight Zone.

Overall, nice job, and an entry for Peter Yates into the Big Money of Hollywood.