Anderson Tapes, The (1971)

The Anderson Tapes (1971), directed by Sidney Lumet.

Safe cracker Sean Connery is out after ten years in prison and immediately starts working on a big heist: he's going to clean out an entire rich apartment building over a holiday weekend. Christopher Walken (his first big film credit) handles the electronics and a very swishy Martin Balsam is his "bird-dog", the guy who finds and appraises the loot.

What can go wrong? The Mob is funding the effort and the money comes with strings: they have to take a stupid hard man along on the job and kill him there. Connery has a prostitute girl friend (Dyan Cannon) in the building and her sugar daddy appears, knowing way too much. A kid in another apartment seems harmless because he is in a wheelchair; what about that ham radio set in the closet?

The whole film has a gimmick: everyone is always being filmed and recorded by a slew of police agencies and private eyes. It doesn't matter: no one detects the heist because the watchers don't talk to each other and each is watching someone other than our gang.

It's a small film but has that Lumet 1970s cops-and-crooks real city streets ambience. There is something about the light blue police uniform shirt of the era: the color of ineffectual authority.

We're with the thieves on this one. The civilians who get smacked around deserve it. The other victims are having a good time, as in Dog Day Afternoon (1975). We want Connery (at least) to get away and agonize with him over the murder he must do. He tries some rhetorical justification for crime, but admits it's all dog-eat-dog.

Comedian Alan King is the Mob financier, pretty menacing. Connery uses his real hair. The police do some impressive rope climbing work.

Quincy Jones score, with computer beep-boop effects to go with the surveillance state message.