Disorganized Crime

Disorganized Crime is a 1989 American heist comedy film. It was written and directed by Jim Kouf and released through Touchstone Pictures. The ensemble cast includes Fred Gwynne, Lou Diamond Phillips, Rubén Blades, William Russ, Corbin Bernsen, Ed O'Neill, Daniel Roebuck and Hoyt Axton.

Disorganized Crime
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJim Kouf
Produced byLynn Bigelow
Written byJim Kouf
Music byDavid Newman
CinematographyRonald Víctor García
Edited byFrank Morriss
Dallas Puet
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution
Release date
  • April 14, 1989 (1989-04-14)
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box officeDomestic:


The story begins in a small town in western Montana where New Jersey based bank robber Frank Salazar has been hiding out from the law after a series of bank robberies in Newark. Upon realizing that the local bank contains a large amount of cash, Salazar recruits four former accomplices to come to town and help him rob the bank. Among them are Nick Bartkowski, a nervous and possibly alcoholic safecracker; Max Green, an old school explosives expert with a heart condition; Ray Forgy, a young, wisecracking auto thief and getaway driver; and Carlos Barrios, a well-manicured lookout and weapons expert.

Before they can arrive, however, two New Jersey detectives (George Denver and Bill Lonigan) catch up with Salazar, arrest him, and extradite him back to New Jersey. But Salazar soon escapes and becomes hopelessly lost in the Montana wilderness as he flees Denver and Lonigan's custody.

Unaware of Salazar's arrest and escape, the four accomplices arrive and realize that he is nowhere to be found. They finally decide to take down the bank on their own but must go through several humorous ordeals before they can complete their plan. The four successfully rob the bank and escape. Salazar is caught shortly thereafter and accused of the robbery, despite having not taken part. Learning that his police bail has been set at $1 million, three of the four (against Bartkowski's wishes) decide to use their loot to rescue Salazar.



Principal photography begin on April 22, 1988 in Missoula, Montana. During the first week of filming in Missoula, a group of Teamsters Union began picketing the set, & protest the production company's use of non-union drivers. Bitterroot Productions had hired 14 non-union drivers, most of them local residents, to move people & equipment between the sets. They first offered the jobs to Teamsters officials, but the union rejected the offer. After filming was done in Missoula, the cast & crew traveled to nearby Hamilton, Montana where most of the film is set. They spend nearly a month & a half filming in Hamilton because of the bank scenes, the court house scene at the Ravalli Country Court House & more locations in town. Finally they went out to Darby, Montana where they filmed the small house scenes where the 4 bank robbers hide out for their partner Salazar, the gas station scene & the river sequence where the two cops try to track down Salazar. Filming was completed shortly in late June 1988. Hoyt Axton, who plays the Sherriff, loved the Bitterroot Valley so much, he purchased a ranch in the valley shortly after filming was completed. He lived there for most of the time until his death.


Disorganized Crime had its world premiere at The Roxy Theatre in Hamilton on April 8, 1989. Stars Corbin Bernsen, Lou Diamond Phillips, William Russ & Daniel Roebuck attended the premiere, including producer Lynn Bigelow & writer & director Jim Kouf. The premiere was a great turnout for residents of Hamilton, who attended & enjoyed seeing the actors coming back to their beloved town for the premiere. The film was released in theatres worldwide on April 14, 1989.

Reviews and reception

Upon release, Disorganized Crime was met with mixed and overall poor reception by top critics. Both Siskel and Ebert gave it thumbs down; reproach was aimed at the lack of detail given to the bank heist plan. They also claimed that the film relies on "slapstick and cornball barnyard humor," cited its frequency of chase scenes and moments where characters fall in mud and manure. However, Ebert did credit the actions of Lou Diamond Phillips's character as a highlight.[2] Caryn James of The New York Times gave feedback largely echoing Siskel and Ebert and claimed that Rubén Blades gives "the only genuinely comic performance."[3] Rita Kempley of The Washington Post called it "a human rehash of the city-mouse/country-mouse story" but also praised Blades for his "comic zest."

In a 2003 interview with DVD Empire, Lou Diamond Phillips said regarding Disorganized Crime:

"As a film, I felt it was a bit disappointing, and I think it should have been funnier. Unfortunately, I think the script was funnier than the actual film came out to be, but I think we were all on a different page. I think the director wanted to make more of an action film or a heist film than he wanted to make a comedy, and Jim Kouf – he was also the writer – I think that he shied away from the comedy of it, which is unfortunate because if we had gone that way I think the film would have been more satisfying."[4]

Home video

Disorganized Crime was originally released on VHS followed by a 1996 re-release and a laser disc format. It arrived on a single-disc DVD set on September 3, 2002. It was re-released on DVD and Blu-ray on May 10, 2011 by Mill Creek Entertainment.


  1. Disorganized Crime at Box Office Mojo
  2. Ebert, Roger & Siskel, Gene Disorganized Crime At the Movies (April 1989). Retrieved on 10-08-08.
  3. James, Caryn Disorganized Crime (1989) Archived September 28, 2013, at the Wayback Machine The New York Times (April 14, 1989). Retrieved on 10-08-08.
  4. Lou Diamond Phillips Archived February 13, 2012, at the Wayback Machine DVDEmpire.com (2003). Retrieved on 10-08-08.
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