I have always loved heist movies, but it didn’t occur to me until I started researching this weeks topic just how many of my favorite films could fit in this category. There have been many variations over the years, but the basic ingredients have mostly remained the same. A disparate group full of experts in their individual fields is gathered to plot the theft of some important item (money, information, jewels, etc). Plans are hatched, goods are stolen, twists and double-crosses are common. Many modern incarnations play with the formula quite a bit, but for my pick this week I decided to go with a classic that also happens to be one of the earliest heist films I can remember watching.
Our group in The League of Gentlemen is composed entirely of former British army officers, led by Colonel Norman Hyde. The Colonel has not taken kindly to being tossed aside by the British military after many years of service and has decided to pull off a bank heist. The men Hyde gather to assist are all down on their luck, in humiliating situations or involved with criminal dealings. Hyde convinces the men that success can be obtained as they have the advantage of their tactical military training. Preparations for the theft commence, a preliminary raid on an army base for supplies is staged, and the heist moves forward.
It had been a long time since I last saw this movie and I was happy to see it had not lost any of its appeal after watching it again recently. While it leans more toward light-hearted caper territory, the film straddles the line, never veering heavily towards a full-out comedy or brooding drama. The cast is chock full of well-regarded British actors of the time that do a great job of bringing distinct personalities to each of their characters, despite the limited individual screen time required by an ensemble. Above all, this is simply a fun, classic take on the big heist theme that is extremely well made.