The Hot Rock / The Outfit
Sunday, May 14, 2017, 6:00 p.m.
Bartos Screening Room
The Hot Rock
Dir. Peter Yates. 1972, 101 mins. 35mm. With Robert Redford, George Segal, Ron Leibman. Robert Redford may be bit too handsome to be the schlubby John Dortmunder, but if one is able to look past that, The Hot Rock is a pretty faithful adaptation of both Westlake's novel and his vision. Perhaps this is due in part to William Goldman: When he was about to begin the screenplay for The Hot Rock, he called Westlake and said, "I want you to tell me everything you know about these characters that isn't in the book." As Roger Ebert put it when the film was released, this "is a long way from being the perfect caper movie, but bless it, has two or three scenes good enough for any caper movie ever made."
Dir. John Flynn. 1973. 103 mins. 35mm. With Robert Duvall, Karen Black, Joe Don Baker, Robert Ryan. "One movie made from a Stark book," Westlake said, "that got the feeling right. The movie is done flat, just like the books." Four decades later, The Outfit stands as a solid example of the 1970s naturalistic crime picture: tough crooks, violence that comes across as real and slightly awkward rather than choreographed, locations that feel worn and neglected, and a refusal to accord any more meaning to the proceedings than what is seen on screen. Robert Duvall is a convincing Parker (named Nolan here), and even the addition of a sidekick, played by Joe Don Baker, doesn't soften him too much. Robert Ryan rounds out the cast with a valedictory performance as an aging mob kingpin that hits just the right note of weariness and frustration.
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