The Hot Rock (1972)

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I was raised in Connecticut, and in 1979 I moved to Virginia. After getting married, we moved to North Carolina, next to Georgia. We briefly left America and lived in Miami, Florida for four years, and now, we live in Lauderhill, Florida. I’ve lived most of my life in the South, but I still feel the most comfortable, the most in my element, when we’re in New England (specifically Connecticut /New York/New Jersey). The look and feel of the area, to me, is unique.

Which is why I especially enjoy a movie filmed in New York. But The Hot Rock doesn’t just look like New York, it feels like it. Which is amazing when you consider the director, Peter Yates (Bullitt – 1967, Murphy’s War – 1971, Breaking Away – 1979), is British. The screenwriter, William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – 1969, All the President’s Men – 1976,  The Princess Bride – 1987) was born in Illinois. And the main actor, Robert Redford, was born in California.

Fortunately, those three know how to direct, write, and act. But it also helps that three of the main supporting actors (George Segal, Ron Leibman, and the late great Zero Mostel, all born in New York) have the New York vibe in abundance.

The Hot Rock tells the comedic story of a career criminal (Redford) recently released from his latest stint in prison (he excels at getting caught). His latest caper: stealing a diamond from a museum. A diplomat from an African country claims the diamond was stolen from his country, and that country is bankrolling the thieves to get it back. And bankrolling is what it takes, since the plan doesn’t go quite as conceived, with the diamond getting stolen and lost multiple times by Redford and his hapless and entertaining crew.

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Before their plan succeeds or fails, they will need: Cars, a moving van, a helicopter, two elevators, a prison breakout and a prison break-in.

Quincy Jones provides a light and breezy jazz score that perfectly fits the city backdrop, especially in the final sequence filmed on the streets and among the typical NYC crowd.

So you want to get in a New York frame of mind? Listen to some Billy Joel, have a gyro (pronounced JI-RO) for dinner, a black and white cookie for dessert, and watch The Hot Rock. And if the phone rings while you’re watching the movie, fuhgeddaboutit!

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