THE BRINK'S JOB -- AMC Carrollton, Springfield Cinema, AMC Skyline, Tyson Twin, Marlow, Wheaton Plaza, Marumsco, White Flint.
In spite of all attempts to exploit the current interest in retrospective clothes, artifacts and social styles, including presenting once again the not-bad Humphrey Bogart routine that actor Peter Falk did in Neil Simon's "Murder By Death" and "The Cheap Detective," the new film "The Brink's Job" is unmistakably new.
It has an intensely modern spirit behind all the correctly copied ingredients, rather like a reproduction of an antique that is recognizably of its own period, however mathematically correct to the standards of another.
And yet the mixture of periods in this picture is a very good hybrid. It is an interesting and amusing movie.
The approach used to recount the Brinks robbery, a sensational crime that captured the public imagination in 1950, is not from the stock of film or folk attitudes. It's not really a "caper" or a outlaw-hero story, although there are touches of both; and it is decidedly not a moralistic crime story. It is, in fact, full of freshly minted amorality.
The robber-gang is shown as an assortment of irrespressible small-time hoods who love their wives. They love their work, too, being constitutionally incapable of not thieving even when the booty is worthless and the risk great, but they are not very good at it. The Brinks robbery, according to this story, worked only because Tony Pino did some elementary investigating and discovered that the famous Brinks security system relied more on image than on alarms and locks.
Falk, as Pino, and his gang, especially a delightful Allen Goorwitz who plays the least ept of them all, come off as mildly likable slobs struggling like the rest of us to make a comfortable living. A dishonest living, in their case, it still has all the lovable characteristics of lower class ethnic society trying to work its way up.
This fondness for the ethnic and the nostalgic is one modern element, and the careful absence of moral judgment is the other. The only person to dislike in the film is J. Edgar Hoover, partly because he is so misplayed by Sheldon Leonard (in contrast, there was a really good Hoover in the New Playwrights' "Splendid Rebels" recently), but also because his good guys-bad guys approach seems so dated.
The true spirit of this era is in the effective last scene, in which the handcuffed robbers are being marched through a cheering crowd. "Remember me -- you used to rob my store!" cries an admirer. A little style, a bit of audacity, and the great task of having attracted public attention -- that, obviously, is modern virtue.