Cast & Crew
In Hamburg, Germany, American Joe Collins is considered by bank manager Kessel to be the most honest, hard-working bank security expert in the world. Unknown to Kessel, Joe has been devising a plan with his girl friend, American exaptriate prostitute Dawn Divine, to take the contents from bank safe-deposit boxes owned by several criminals and place them into one owned by Dawn. As Joe explains to Dawn, the theft will be beyond the law because the thefts of illegal funds can never be reported. Joe's plan depends upon his intellect and knowledge of the bank's expensive vault, coupled with information that Dawn supplies to him about some of her clients: Sarge, an American sergeant who is involved in the black market, and has recently graduated to smuggling heroin; Mr. Las Vegas, an attorney who is helping his Las Vegas clients evade taxes; and Candy Man, a sadistic killer and drug dealer. Although Joe has arranged for his friend Helga, a striptease dancer at a gangster-run nightclub, to report on Candy Man, she is killed, apparently after arranging for Dawn to meet Candy Man and accompany him on a flight to Copenhagen. Unknown to Dawn, Candy Man is to deliver some concentrated LSD that he has poured into an empty champagne bottle. On the flight, he gives Dawn the champagne to carry in her bag, telling her to save it for later. Upon their arrival in Copenhagen, though, she is stopped by customs officials, who say that they were given a tip that she might be smuggling drugs into the country. While they are questioning her, Candy Man surreptitiously takes the champagne and walks away. When Dawn is let go by the authorities, she returns to Hamburg, to the relief of Joe, who did not find out about Helga's death until after it was too late to stop Dawn. On the day of the heist, which Joe had already announced was his last before returning home, Joe sets his plan in motion by telling some of the bank employees to watch out for a suspicious-looking man with a scar. At the specified time, a nervous Dawn, who has been practicing her lines all morning, calls and whispers a threat to blow up the bank if Kessel does not give a man with a scar the gold bar on display in a secure case in the lobby. A nervous Kessel alerts Joe, who goes with him to retrieve the gold bar, then quickly grabs it and runs into the vault as he orders the clerk to shut the vault door immediately. Kessel and the others at the bank are amazed by Joe's bravery but worried when they realize that he had left the key to open the vault from the inside on his desk. Kessel communicates with Joe through the bank's video security system and assures him that the police are on their way and will look for the bomb. He also insists, over Joe's assurances that he will be fine and Kessel should not ruin a $50,000 door, on using a blowtorch to break the vault's lock because he fears that the air will not last until the next morning when it would automatically open. After the police determine that there was no bomb, scores of spectators and media arrive at the bank. While his plight is being reported extensively on German television, Joe quickly unlocks and empties the targeted safe-deposit boxes, placing the content of each into Dawn's box and timing his activities to avoid the security camera's sweeping lens. Meanwhile, thousands of people throughout Germany are watching television and hailing Joe for his bravery, even Sarge and Mr. Las Vegas. When the welder finally breaks through the vault door, Joe has completed his job and the safe-deposit boxes appear to be untouched. The next day, when Sarge comes to empty his safe-deposit box, he sees Joe and congratulates him for his "American know how" and bravery. As Sarge and Candy Man go into private rooms to open their respective safe-deposit boxes, they are stunned to find them empty, as is Mr. Las Vegas, who collapses in shock. Meanwhile, Dawn, who has entered the bank and taken the contents of her safe-deposit box, now bursting with cash and Candy Man's champagne bottle, is barely able to leave the bank without the assistance of an eager Kessel, who finds her attractive. As the day goes on, Candy Man is threatened by his drug contacts for not having their money, and Sarge, believing that his partner, the major, has robbed him starts to beat him up until Candy Man arrives and tells them that only the people who could not report their theft had been robbed. As they ponder what has happened, Candy Man sees a photograph of Sarge and Dawn, then takes Sarge and the major to her apartment. Although Sarge thinks that Dawn is "a dumb broad," incapable of being involved in the robbery, they find Joe's name and telephone number in her address book, then call him and quickly hang up. Candy Man, who says he does not believe in coincidences or heroes, waits while Sarge calls Kessel to ask for Joe's address, saying that he is a friend who lost his address. Kessel is at first reluctant to reveal the information but relents when Sarge says that he needs it for a party, which Kessel assumes is Joe's going away party. Kessel then has second thoughts and calls Joe to inform him what he has done. Joe tells him that it is not a problem, then quickly packs up all of the cash that he and Dawn have been counting. Dawn adds the champagne bottle to the suitcase she will take, then, on Joe's instructions, drives away in his car just as Sarge, the major and Candy Man arrive. While the major follows Dawn, Sarge and Candy Man pursue Joe into his building, then through the backstreets and rail yards of Hamburg. Meanwhile, Dawn eludes the major by boarding a train that is about to leave, then jumping off as it pulls out of the station. Joe makes his escape from Hamburg by hiding in a car being transported on a car hauling trailer. Early the next morning, Sarge and Candy Man see the trailer out in the country and moments later spy Joe walking through the snow. They jump into Sarge's car and follow the road around a frozen lake, and when the car gets stuck in some slush, Candy Man jumps into another car and drives out onto the lake. As Candy Man drives back and forth trying to run down Joe, the ice begins to crack and the car sinks, sending him plunging to his death in the icy water. Now Joe starts to run toward a moving train as Sarge gets into his car and follows. Some time later, as Joe is sleeping in a compartment on the train, Sarge puts a gun to his head. He demands the money, but when Joe opens the suitcase it contains only old newspapers and the bottle of champagne. Joe then says that Dawn has cheated all of them and convinces Sarge to work together to find her. They decide to open the bottle of champagne to seal the deal, but while Joe looks at his glass and wonders why there are no bubbles, Sarge drinks straight out of the bottle and almost immediately begins to writhe in pain as the concentrated LSD takes effect. When the train arrives at the next station, Joe throws the suitcase into the trash and walks away. Some time later, Dawn checks into a Southern California resort and is happily reunited with Joe, telling him that she knew that they would never kill him as long as he did not have the money.
Elsa De Bruycker
M. J. Frankovich
Joe La Bella
Arthur R. Piantadosi
Jan Van Der Eerden
$ aka Dollars ('71)
$ seemingly had all the ingredients to be a box office smash. It was a fun caper film with both gritty and light-hearted elements, and it starred two of the most bankable movie star sex symbols of its day, Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn. Beatty was in his heyday as a leading man, and Hawn was enjoying the first tastes of box office stardom following a successful stint on TV's quirky show Laugh-In and her recent Oscar® win for Best Supporting Actress in the hit comedy Cactus Flower (1969).
The film was written and directed by Richard Brooks, who had previously written and/or directed a number of significant films over the course of his lengthy career including Blackboard Jungle (1955), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958), Elmer Gantry (1960) and In Cold Blood (1967). Brooks was known for his love of using authentic locations for his films whenever possible, and $ was no exception. Shot on location in Hamburg, Germany and parts of Scandinavia, $ used its European setting to full advantage for the purposes of the plot and its suspenseful climax.
"I thought it was going to be a big picture," said Goldie Hawn according to Marc Shapiro's 1998 biography Pure Goldie: The Life and Career of Goldie Hawn. "It smelled like a hit." $ was a project she was enthusiastic about in the beginning. Hawn was especially excited that the production would give her the opportunity to visit Germany.
The film marked the first time that Hawn and Beatty ever worked together. The chemistry between the two sexy young stars was palpable, which led to the inevitable rumors that there was a romance cooking between the married Hawn and notorious lady-killer Beatty. According to journalist Peter Biskind in his 2010 book Star: How Warren Beatty Seduced America, the two actors did become lovers, though their relationship ultimately evolved into a lifelong friendship. "We did become fast friends on that film," said Goldie Hawn. "I looked upon him as a crazy older brother. I think we got along so well because our characters are alike in...oh, so many ways. But the big reason why we got along so well was that Warren was the first man who told me I was really smart. I was twenty-six, and I had never heard that before. Warren telling me that gave me a lot of confidence."
During the course of filming, Warren Beatty suffered a serious injury during a particular scene involving a train. According to Peter Biskind, Beatty was nearly killed when he slipped from the train and fell onto the tracks below, leaving barely enough time to move out of the way of an oncoming freight train. Beatty's ankle was badly hurt as a result of the accident, and his recovery delayed the production two full days.
$ opened in December 1971 to mixed reviews. Despite having A-list talent across the board, the film failed to connect with audiences and ended up being a box office disappointment. Goldie Hawn, looking back, found her own performance lackluster. "It was a total bust," she said. "I didn't like my character or what I did with her. It was a totally unthought out, unconscious performance. I can't even look at the picture."
The film was something of a product of its time with old guard director Richard Brooks working to keep up with the new crop of young filmmakers who were experimenting with testing the boundaries of cinematic traditions and working with a more European sensibility in their stylistic approach. $ is a film that has come to be praised in later years as stylish good fun, known as much for a rather lengthy chase sequence towards the end as its A-list star power. Beatty and Hawn are charismatic and likeable as the sexy thieves, and there is pleasure in watching these two share the screen during such an interesting period in 1970s cinema.
Famed composer Quincy Jones contributes a funky jazz-infused score to the film, which earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or TV Special.
Producer: M.J. Frankovich
Director: Richard Brooks
Screenplay: Richard Brooks
Cinematography: Petrus Schloemp
Music: Quincy Jones
Film Editing: George Grenville
Cast: Warren Beatty (Joe Collins), Goldie Hawn (Dawn Divine), ert Fröbe (Mr. Kessel), Robert Webber (Attorney), Scott Brady (Sarge), Arthur Brauss (Candy Man), Robert Stiles (Major), Wolfgang Kieling (Granich), Robert Herron (Bodyguard), Christiane Maybach (Helga)
by Andrea Passafiume
$ aka Dollars ('71)
Some contemporary sources listed the film's title as $ (Dollars), while others listed it Dollars, and the British release title was The Heist. In the opening credits, the film's title is only conveyed by a huge $ that is being swung into place by an industrial crane over a large building. Richard Brooks's onscreen credit reads: "Written and directed by." At the bottom of the cast list in the end credits a statement reads "Hamburg press, television and radio reporters played by themselves."
As noted in the opening credits, the film was shot on location in Hamburg, Germany, at the Bendestorf Studios in Hamburg and in Scandanavia. An onscreen statement also acknowledges the assistance of the Hamburg Art Museum. According to contemporary news items, the frozen lake sequence and other snow scenes were shot in Norway, and portions of the end of the film were shot in Munich. Famous Hamburg locations that were used in the film included Reeperbahn, which is the Red Light district, the Kunsthalle Art Museum and the Salambo Cabaret nightclub.
The sequence in which Goldie Hawn is seen driving a convertible was shot along Pacific Coast Highway in Southern California. The final hotel sequence was shot at the Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego, CA. News items noted that star Warren Beatty was injured while filming the train sequence, forcing him off the production for at least two days.
Released in United States on Video October 1988
Released in United States Winter December 15, 1971
Released in United States on Video October 1988
Released in United States Winter December 15, 1971