Review: The Day They Robbed the Bank of England

Set in 1901, IRA man Hugh Griffith hires Canadian-born Aldo Ray and several others (including pretty Elizabeth Sellars) to do the title deed for political funding purposes. Peter O’Toole is the posh guard Ray befriends and attempts to dupe. Miles Malleson has an excellent extended cameo as an assistant curator of a museum whom Ray gets vital maps from.

Tough, well-shot, but slow-moving and unexciting 1960 John Guillermin (The excellent “The Blue Max”, and the enjoyably schlocky “The Towering Inferno” down to the abysmal “King Kong” remake) heist film seems like a can’t-miss idea, but it does miss. This is mostly due to the tragic miscasting of Ray, who hasn’t a strong enough presence for leading man status (and really, what’s a guy named Aldo doing in a film like this anyway?), but it’s also dour, plodding, and lacking the fun and style one usually associates with a caper film. It does, however, feature a brilliant, early appearance by O’Toole, who walks off with the whole picture. Griffith and Malleson (two of the all-time great British character actors) are also good, but whenever these three aren’t around, the film is a chore to sit through. Scripted by Howard Clewes (novelist of “The Long Memory”, turned into a film with Sir John Mills) and Richard Maibaum (“Goldfinger”, “Dr. No”, “From Russia With Love”, and “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” among others in the Bond series), from the John Brophy  novel. This should’ve worked, but it never quite gets going.

Rating: C+


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