Anderson Tapes [1971]

An early example of the techno-thriller, The Anderson Tapes--sharply directed by Sidney Lumet from the novel by Lawrence Sanders--follows just-out-of-jail Duke Anderson (a balding Sean Connery) as he plots the heist of an entire New York apartment building, enlisting a crew that includes Martin Balsam as a vintage 1971 gay stereotype and a very young Christoper Walken in perhaps the first of his jittery crook roles. The gimmick is that Anderson has been out of circulation so long that he doesn't realizse his mafia backers are only supporting him because they feel nostalgic for the days before they were boring businessmen and that the whole set-up is monitored by a criss-crossing selection of government and private agencies who don't care enough to thwart the robbery, which instead becomes unglued thanks to a spunky handicapped kid-cum-radio ham. With a cool Quincy Jones score, very tight editing, a lot of spot-on cameo performances from the likes of Ralph Meeker as a patient cop, The Anderson Tapes hasn't dated a bit: it's wry without being jokey and suspenseful without feeling contrived. --Kim Newman

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