Going in Style


1h 37m 1979
Going in Style

Brief Synopsis

Three elderly men decide to better their lot by robbing a bank.

Film Details

Also Known As
Adquirendo estilo
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Crime
Release Date
1979
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Synopsis

Joe, Al and Willie are senior citizens who share a small apartment in New York City and spend their time in the park feeding the pigeons. Tired of the monotony, Joe suggests that the three of them supplement their social security income by robbing a bank. The three men take some guns from Willie's nephew's collection, don disguises, and come away with $35,000. But the stress is too much for Willie and he dies from a heart attack later that day. Joe and Al decide that they will give most of the money to the nephew and spend the rest in Las Vegas. But as they make these plans, the police are getting close to identifying the bank robbers.

Film Details

Also Known As
Adquirendo estilo
MPAA Rating
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Crime
Release Date
1979
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Distribution Company
Warner Bros. Pictures Distribution

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)

Articles

Going in Style


You know the story: A couple or three or four aging men, tired of feeling put out to pasture, buck society's limited ideas about older people and decide to get some excitement and purpose back into their lives by pulling off a heist (Tough Guys, 1986), having a night of wild partying, sex, and revenge (Stand Up Guys, 2012), returning to their glory days of spying and assassination (Red, 2010) or retrieving a failing satellite (Space Cowboys, 2000). Even the Japanese have gotten into the act with "Beat" Takeshi's tale of badass aging yakuzas (Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen, 2015).

It has become something of a subgenre in recent years, especially as some of our finest actors and action stars have reached their 60s and up. Going in Style got there first, but this comic tale of pensioners scheming to pull off a bank robbery strives for something a bit deeper than the spectacle of once-virile performers being put through their paces.

Actually, nothing about the stars of this movie puts them in the same league as the Eastwoods, Willises, and Lancasters of the later movies. George Burns was a cigar-chomping, wise-cracking comedian whose previous film before his Oscar-winning turn in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys (1975) was in 1939; Art Carney went from being a famous TV second banana to establishing a more varied dramatic film career late in life, winning an Oscar for his effort (Harry and Tonto, 1974); and legendary acting coach and Method founder Lee Strasberg appeared in only two movies before the age of 70.

There's plenty of humor in the story but also a good deal that's serious and poignant. Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel praised Going in Style as a "small, quality film" with "a surprising mixture of comedy and pain." Siskel said the picture "treats old age with a lot of bitterness," adding: "What this remarkable movie is after is duplicating the texture of being old in America. And, as we spend the final days with these three characters, we discover that what growing old is about for so many people is being alone. In one heart-tugging scene after another, we see the maturity it takes to make peace with yourself as you grow old. We see the strength it takes to be willing to sit quietly."

Siskel had particular praise for the usually cheerful and comic George Burns, who "lets out some of his rage...in a controlled, quiet way that reveals he is one remarkable actor." At one point in the movie, Burns looks through some old photos and mementoes. Coming across a picture of a young couple, meant to be the character and his late wife, Burns eyes well with tears. The photo is actually one of Burns and his longtime wife and comedy partner Gracie Allen, who died in 1964.

All three actors won the Pasinetti Award for Best Actor at the 1980 Venice Film Festival. The film was also nominated with its director Martin Brest, who wrote the screenplay from a story by Edward Cannon. This was Brest's second film but his first studio release, and it proved to be a good boost for the then 28-year-old filmmaker.

Over the next few years, despite setbacks and artistic disagreements that saw Brest leaving a handful of major studio projects, his career seemed headed for big things. His next picture, Beverly Hills Cop (1984), was a runaway hit and a star maker for Eddie Murphy. The comic crime picture Midnight Run (1988), starring the unlikely but winning team of Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, was also critically and commercially well received. Four years later he had another hit, directing Al Pacino to his only Academy Award in Scent of a Woman (1992), based on an Italian novel and film of 1974. Brest followed that with Meet Joe Black (1998), also inspired by an old Hollywood picture, Death Takes a Holiday (1934), but mixed reviews and disappointing box office severely slowed his trajectory. He then turned his attention to an original project he wrote and directed. Gigli (2003) is now legendary as a huge commercial bomb and considered to be one of the worst movies ever made.

Whether that assessment is entirely fair or not, it seems to have knocked Brest out of the charmed position he once held. Although he was never a prolific director, 13 years and counting between projects is a long dry spell. His total disappearance from film has left many wondering about his whereabouts and the possibilities for any kind of comeback. Now 63, perhaps Brest is feeling the cruel sting of being put out to pasture himself. Or he's just happy to be far from the rat race.

Going in Style, however, still has life left in it. A remake is slated to be released in 2017 starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin as the larcenous seniors, with a cast that includes Ann-Margret, Matt Dillon, and Christopher Lloyd.

Director: Martin Brest
Producer: Leonard Gaines, Tony Bill, Fred T. Gallo
Screenplay: Martin Brest, story by Edward Cannon
Cinematography: Billy Williams
Editing: C. Timothy O'Meara, Robert Swink
Art Direction: Fred Price, Gary Weist
Music: Michael Small
Cast: George Burns (Joe), Art Carney (Al), Lee Strasberg (Willie), Charles Hallahan (Pete), Pamela Payton-Wright (Kathy)

By Rob Nixon
Going In Style

Going in Style

You know the story: A couple or three or four aging men, tired of feeling put out to pasture, buck society's limited ideas about older people and decide to get some excitement and purpose back into their lives by pulling off a heist (Tough Guys, 1986), having a night of wild partying, sex, and revenge (Stand Up Guys, 2012), returning to their glory days of spying and assassination (Red, 2010) or retrieving a failing satellite (Space Cowboys, 2000). Even the Japanese have gotten into the act with "Beat" Takeshi's tale of badass aging yakuzas (Ryuzo and the Seven Henchmen, 2015). It has become something of a subgenre in recent years, especially as some of our finest actors and action stars have reached their 60s and up. Going in Style got there first, but this comic tale of pensioners scheming to pull off a bank robbery strives for something a bit deeper than the spectacle of once-virile performers being put through their paces. Actually, nothing about the stars of this movie puts them in the same league as the Eastwoods, Willises, and Lancasters of the later movies. George Burns was a cigar-chomping, wise-cracking comedian whose previous film before his Oscar-winning turn in Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys (1975) was in 1939; Art Carney went from being a famous TV second banana to establishing a more varied dramatic film career late in life, winning an Oscar for his effort (Harry and Tonto, 1974); and legendary acting coach and Method founder Lee Strasberg appeared in only two movies before the age of 70. There's plenty of humor in the story but also a good deal that's serious and poignant. Chicago Tribune critic Gene Siskel praised Going in Style as a "small, quality film" with "a surprising mixture of comedy and pain." Siskel said the picture "treats old age with a lot of bitterness," adding: "What this remarkable movie is after is duplicating the texture of being old in America. And, as we spend the final days with these three characters, we discover that what growing old is about for so many people is being alone. In one heart-tugging scene after another, we see the maturity it takes to make peace with yourself as you grow old. We see the strength it takes to be willing to sit quietly." Siskel had particular praise for the usually cheerful and comic George Burns, who "lets out some of his rage...in a controlled, quiet way that reveals he is one remarkable actor." At one point in the movie, Burns looks through some old photos and mementoes. Coming across a picture of a young couple, meant to be the character and his late wife, Burns eyes well with tears. The photo is actually one of Burns and his longtime wife and comedy partner Gracie Allen, who died in 1964. All three actors won the Pasinetti Award for Best Actor at the 1980 Venice Film Festival. The film was also nominated with its director Martin Brest, who wrote the screenplay from a story by Edward Cannon. This was Brest's second film but his first studio release, and it proved to be a good boost for the then 28-year-old filmmaker. Over the next few years, despite setbacks and artistic disagreements that saw Brest leaving a handful of major studio projects, his career seemed headed for big things. His next picture, Beverly Hills Cop (1984), was a runaway hit and a star maker for Eddie Murphy. The comic crime picture Midnight Run (1988), starring the unlikely but winning team of Robert De Niro and Charles Grodin, was also critically and commercially well received. Four years later he had another hit, directing Al Pacino to his only Academy Award in Scent of a Woman (1992), based on an Italian novel and film of 1974. Brest followed that with Meet Joe Black (1998), also inspired by an old Hollywood picture, Death Takes a Holiday (1934), but mixed reviews and disappointing box office severely slowed his trajectory. He then turned his attention to an original project he wrote and directed. Gigli (2003) is now legendary as a huge commercial bomb and considered to be one of the worst movies ever made. Whether that assessment is entirely fair or not, it seems to have knocked Brest out of the charmed position he once held. Although he was never a prolific director, 13 years and counting between projects is a long dry spell. His total disappearance from film has left many wondering about his whereabouts and the possibilities for any kind of comeback. Now 63, perhaps Brest is feeling the cruel sting of being put out to pasture himself. Or he's just happy to be far from the rat race. Going in Style, however, still has life left in it. A remake is slated to be released in 2017 starring Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Alan Arkin as the larcenous seniors, with a cast that includes Ann-Margret, Matt Dillon, and Christopher Lloyd. Director: Martin Brest Producer: Leonard Gaines, Tony Bill, Fred T. Gallo Screenplay: Martin Brest, story by Edward Cannon Cinematography: Billy Williams Editing: C. Timothy O'Meara, Robert Swink Art Direction: Fred Price, Gary Weist Music: Michael Small Cast: George Burns (Joe), Art Carney (Al), Lee Strasberg (Willie), Charles Hallahan (Pete), Pamela Payton-Wright (Kathy) By Rob Nixon

Going in Style


Three elderly men are sitting on a park bench. One is feeding the pigeons, one is just looking around but the third is planning a bank robbery. That's the premise of Martin Brest's first movie Going In Style (1979), just released on DVD by Warner Home Video.

To play the three thieves, Brest got three star actors. George Burns is Joe, the man with the plan, Art Carney is his friend Al and Lee Strasberg from The Godfather, Part II (1974) is Willie. They all share an apartment on Long Island, try to get by on their Social Security checks and give each other a little company on the way to the graveyard. Joe suggests a robbery and the other two go along. It will give them something to do.

The movie that follows, however, downplays the robbery angle. They are in and out of the bank with the loot long before the picture is half over. Instead, the stickup is just an excuse to get audiences to willingly watch a movie about the three elderly men. It is not the heist that hooks a viewer's interest, but the way Burns, Carney and Strasberg bring these characters to life. One might expect that Burns and Carney, best known for their comedy, would present farcical senior citizens, but they only supply delicate touches of humor and only when a situation naturally leads to it. Burns, in fact, has an underplayed but heartbreaking scene in which he goes through an old picture album. One of the pictures is a publicity shot of the young Burns with Gracie Allen and the slight tear that appears in Burns' eye provokes a similar response from the audience.

Director and writer Martin Brest would go on to success as a director with such movies as Beverly Hills Cop (1984) and Scent Of A Woman (1992) that would garner Al Pacino an Academy Award® for Best Actor. Recently, however, Brest returned to both writing and directing with another crime comedy, Gigli (2003). Purchasers of Going In Style should not be afraid, as this is a much, much better movie.

Warner Home Video's DVD presents Going In Style in both letterbox form and in 16 X 9 widescreen television format. The image is extremely good with strong colors that well present the cinematography of Billy Williams, best known for his work on Gandhi (1982) and On Golden Pond (1981). The sound is also good although the score by Michael Small, done in a Preservation Hall Jazz Band style, tries to force a cheerfulness on the film that occasionally clashes with the style. There is no commentary track, a shame since, with the recent death of Art Carney, all three of the stars have now passed on and there will never be another chance to hear what they would have said. However, the DVD does include, in addition to the theatrical trailer, a 1979 promotional appearance by Art Carney and George Burns on Dinah Shore's afternoon talk show. Both Carney and Burns try to steal the show with broad comedy they could not do in the film. Burns even manages to slip a dirty joke past the censor.

Do not be misled by a DVD cover that promises a wacky time. Going In Style is not the caper comedy it pretends to be and audiences looking for belly laughs should look elsewhere. Those wanting to watch three professionals bring interesting and involving characters to life, however, will be entertained.

For more information about Going in Style, visit Warner Video. To order Going in Style, go to TCM Shopping.

by Brian Cady

Going in Style

Three elderly men are sitting on a park bench. One is feeding the pigeons, one is just looking around but the third is planning a bank robbery. That's the premise of Martin Brest's first movie Going In Style (1979), just released on DVD by Warner Home Video. To play the three thieves, Brest got three star actors. George Burns is Joe, the man with the plan, Art Carney is his friend Al and Lee Strasberg from The Godfather, Part II (1974) is Willie. They all share an apartment on Long Island, try to get by on their Social Security checks and give each other a little company on the way to the graveyard. Joe suggests a robbery and the other two go along. It will give them something to do. The movie that follows, however, downplays the robbery angle. They are in and out of the bank with the loot long before the picture is half over. Instead, the stickup is just an excuse to get audiences to willingly watch a movie about the three elderly men. It is not the heist that hooks a viewer's interest, but the way Burns, Carney and Strasberg bring these characters to life. One might expect that Burns and Carney, best known for their comedy, would present farcical senior citizens, but they only supply delicate touches of humor and only when a situation naturally leads to it. Burns, in fact, has an underplayed but heartbreaking scene in which he goes through an old picture album. One of the pictures is a publicity shot of the young Burns with Gracie Allen and the slight tear that appears in Burns' eye provokes a similar response from the audience. Director and writer Martin Brest would go on to success as a director with such movies as Beverly Hills Cop (1984) and Scent Of A Woman (1992) that would garner Al Pacino an Academy Award® for Best Actor. Recently, however, Brest returned to both writing and directing with another crime comedy, Gigli (2003). Purchasers of Going In Style should not be afraid, as this is a much, much better movie. Warner Home Video's DVD presents Going In Style in both letterbox form and in 16 X 9 widescreen television format. The image is extremely good with strong colors that well present the cinematography of Billy Williams, best known for his work on Gandhi (1982) and On Golden Pond (1981). The sound is also good although the score by Michael Small, done in a Preservation Hall Jazz Band style, tries to force a cheerfulness on the film that occasionally clashes with the style. There is no commentary track, a shame since, with the recent death of Art Carney, all three of the stars have now passed on and there will never be another chance to hear what they would have said. However, the DVD does include, in addition to the theatrical trailer, a 1979 promotional appearance by Art Carney and George Burns on Dinah Shore's afternoon talk show. Both Carney and Burns try to steal the show with broad comedy they could not do in the film. Burns even manages to slip a dirty joke past the censor. Do not be misled by a DVD cover that promises a wacky time. Going In Style is not the caper comedy it pretends to be and audiences looking for belly laughs should look elsewhere. Those wanting to watch three professionals bring interesting and involving characters to life, however, will be entertained. For more information about Going in Style, visit Warner Video. To order Going in Style, go to TCM Shopping. by Brian Cady

Quotes

No tinhorn joint like this could ever hold me.
- Joe

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1979

Released in United States Winter December 1, 1979