Bank Shot

Bank Shot is a 1974 film directed by Gower Champion and written by Wendell Mayes. It was loosely based upon Donald E. Westlake's novel of the same name, which was the second book of his "Dortmunder" series. The film stars George C. Scott, Joanna Cassidy, Sorrell Booke, and G. Wood.

Bank shot
Directed byGower Champion
Produced byHal Landers
Bobby Roberts
Screenplay byWendell Mayes
Based onThe Bank Shot
by Donald E. Westlake
StarringGeorge C. Scott
Joanna Cassidy
Sorrell Booke
Don Calfa
Bibi Osterwald
Frank McRae
Bob Balaban
G. Wood
Clifton James
Music byJohn Morris
CinematographyHarry Stradling, Jr.
Edited byDavid Bretherton
Landers-Roberts Productions
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
July 30, 1974[1]
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States


A bank, temporarily housed in a mobile home while a new building is built, looks like an easy target to break into. On the other hand, why not steal the whole bank, and rob it in a safer location? That is what Al Karp, the former partner of jailed criminal planner Walter Ballantine, thinks, so Karp arranges for Ballantine to escape from the Streiger Institute (a privately run penitentiary) and convinces him to mastermind the heist. The film is narrated by Warden Streiger (known as "Bulldog" Streiger).



Vincent Canby of The New York Times was mildly amused: "It's not a great movie. It's not worth taking a taxi to see. Yet there are many less invigorating ways to waste one's time. ... The intensity of Scott's performance is highly comic. His Walter Ballantine has the discipline, self-assurance and narrow vision of the true fanatic. So, too, do most of the other characters in the film... Gower Champion, who has had more success as a Broadway director (Hello, Dolly) than as a maker of films (My Six Loves), seems to have had a great deal of fun with first-rate actors doing Bank Shot — grace of a work by someone who knows exactly what he's doing."[2] Arthur D. Murphy of Variety called it "an innocuous little trifle" and "formula caper material, hyped by humor that is variously silly, forced and strident."[3] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film two stars out of four and dismissed it as "a trivial, television-caliber, bank heist comedy."[4] Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "While 'The Bank Shot,' adapted by Wendell Mayes from a Donald Westlake novel, is at best a lightly amusing and never very suspenseful caper film, it is lit with moments of plain wonderful and imaginative silliness."[5] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post stated, "Despite its rather too effective air of inconsequence, 'The Bank Shot' is a reasonably good time," adding that "Champion demonstrates a wonderful talent for staging and shooting wide-screen sight gags."[6] Richard Combs of The Monthly Film Bulletin remarked that the film "definitely looks as if it belongs to a bygone age, to the days of Kramer's Mad, Mad World," with much of its sense of fun coming off as "decidedly strenuous and heavily mugged."[7]

See also


  1. "The Bank Shot - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved July 20, 2019.
  2. Canby, Vincent (August 1, 1974). "A Disarming 'Bank Shot': Crooks Prove Proper and Optimistic". The New York Times.
  3. Murphy, Arthur D. (July 10, 1974). "Film Reviews: Bank Shot". Variety. 16.
  4. Siskel, Gene (July 30, 1974). "Scott's 'Bank Shot's' no big shot". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 4.
  5. Champlin, Charles (August 14, 1974). "Stylish Silliness in 'The Bank Shot'". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 19.
  6. Arnold, Gary (July 20, 1974). "Slightly Off-Target 'Shot'". The Washington Post. F6.
  7. Combs, Richard (November 1974). "Bank Shot". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 41 (490): 246.
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