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The Day They Robbed the Bank of England

The Day They Robbed the Bank of England(1960)


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Early in the twentieth century, as Ireland struggles for independence, Charles Norgate, an Irish American, arrives in London to undertake the robbery of the Bank of England, which has never been robbed in its 200-year existence. Iris Muldoon, a widow whose husband Michael died years earlier in the attempt by Irish revolutionaries to take over the Armory, previously had been sent to New York to hire Norgate on behalf of the movement, which desires to rob the bank of a million pounds as part of their political offensive. Norgate, who had once been a mining engineer, gains the Revolutionaries' confidence by saying that he still has his roots in Ireland. Told that the bank is considered impregnable, he decides to find a weakness in the "Bank Picket," Her Majesty's Brigade of Guards, which keeps watch on the gold. Norgate becomes friends with Lt. Monte Fitch of the Guard, and after he expresses an interest in architecture, Fitch tells him about the museum that houses the designs of the bank's architect, Sir John Soane. At the museum, Norgate breaks into the case containing the plans and traces them. Walsh, one of the revolutionaries who dislikes Norgate, believes there is no way they can get into the vault and tries to talk Mrs. Muldoon, of whom he is enamored, into leaving the movement with him, but she refuses. Although she had an affair with Norgate in New York, she no longer wants to be involved with him either. Since the plans have no scale, Norgate gets Fitch to show him the vault and learns that all the guards walk at exactly the same pace. By counting the paces, he figures out the corridor's length. When he learns that the guards are plagued by rats and that the floor has been reinforced, he goes to the Sewage Commission Records Department and discovers that an underground river, which has been sealed up for forty years, runs under the bank. Norgate finds an old "Tosher," a scavenger of the Thames, and after identifying himself as an archaeologist trying to examine ruins of a Roman temple, persuades the "Tosher" to show him where the river had been walled up. The group purchases a warehouse nearby and digs through until they come to the river. They plan to dig a thirty-foot tunnel during the first weekend in August, the Monday of which is a bank holiday. Before they start, Norgate taunts Mrs. Muldoon, saying she is afraid of herself and what her dead husband might think, and she responds to his kisses. Meanwhile, Lt. Fitch, on duty at the vault, becomes suspicious of Norgate and learns that he has checked out of his hotel. While digging, Walsh hits a gas pipe with his pick and the lights dim until Norgate plugs the hole with a piece of wood and mud. Fitch then commands the keeper, Mr. Greene, to open the vault door, but it can only be opened if the three officials who have keys use them together, and one, Mr. Peabody, is away on holiday. Fitch then orders that Peabody be found and brought to the vault. Meanwhile, O'Shea, one of the revolutionaries, announces that the Irish Home Rule bill is to be reintroduced, and the theft must be stopped, as nothing can be allowed to jeopardize passage of the bill. When O'Shea, who says that the movement will disassociate itself from the thieves as they did when Michael died, Mrs. Muldoon convinces Walsh to go with her to inform Norgate of the change in plans. Walsh arrives as Norgate is about to break through the floor of the vault, and astounded by the gold bars there, Walsh says nothing. They steal a million pounds worth of bullion and are about to dynamite through a sealed entrance, where Cohoun, another of the group, is to be waiting with a tug boat, when Mrs. Muldoon appears and says she sent Cohoun away. Despite her pleas, Walsh and Norgate decide to load the gold into a cart and take it to the warehouse. When Norgate realizes that the "Tosher," whom Walsh had knocked cold as he rushed past, has not come out, he goes to search for him. The "Tosher," meanwhile, has revived, and carrying a bust from a Roman ruin, arrives in the vault looking for Norgate, who finds him there. When he sees "the Queen's yellow," the "Tosher" realizes that Norgate is not the gentleman he thought he was. Just then, Fitch and the guard open the vault door, as Peabody has been located and brought back to London. On the street, as a bobby passes by, the gold breaks through the cart that Walsh, in his greed, has overloaded. When Norgate is led to a police wagon in handcuffs, Mrs. Muldoon looks in his eyes with tears in hers. She walks off, and the Tosher wanders away carrying the bust.