The Hot Rock


1h 41m 1972
The Hot Rock

Brief Synopsis

Dr. Amusa approaches Dortmunder about a valuable gem in a museum that is of great signifigance to his people in Africa, stolen during colonial times. Dortmunder assembles a crack team of cat burglars and hatches an elaborate plan for stealing the gem. Despite their care and experience, circumstances and plain bad luck keep the gem just out of their reach.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Release Date
Jan 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 26 Jan 1972; Los Angeles opening: 9 Feb 1972
Production Company
Landers-Roberts, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, USA; New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Hot Rock by Donald E. Westlake (New York, 1970).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Synopsis

Just outside of New York City, career criminal John Dortmunder is released from prison and met by his brother-in-law, lock expert Andrew Kelp who excitedly confides the details of a new "job." Despite John's insistence that he will never work with Andrew again, he accompanies him to the Brooklyn Museum where they peer at an enormous diamond on display behind a special glass security case. Walking in a park later, John again refuses Andrew's proposal that they steal the stone until Andrew introduces him to Dr. Amusa, the United Nations representative of a small African country. Amusa explains that the diamond, known as the Sahara stone, originally belonged to his country which has long hoped for its return. John, who enjoys the challenge provided by criminal high jinks, reconsiders, then declares the job will require four men and demands $25,000 per member of the team. Amusa agrees to the terms, but refuses to negotiate additional daily expenses, requesting instead that the thieves make a direct request as specific needs arise. Later, John meets car expert Stan Murch at a bar, where Andrew introduces them to explosives expert Alan Greenberg. Despite Amusa's impatience to obtain the stone quickly, John insists on time to work out his plan and then orders four guard uniforms. Later at a deserted river in the country, John has Alan demonstrate numerous explosions, insisting on the biggest and loudest possible. One evening, Alan and Stan kidnap and tie up the museum's outdoor guard, then Stan crashes a stolen car near the museum's entrance, setting off a tremendous explosion that brings all of the guards outside. Feigning grave injuries, Stan screams for help while the guards struggle to comfort him. Alan, dressed as a doctor, arrives and insists that all the guards assist him in stabilizing the groaning Stan. When an ambulance appears, Alan slips away and joins John and Andrew, who, disguised as guards, have already broken into the museum. Although nervous, Andrew manages to pick the locks on the glass case but the men are delayed as they struggle to lift the heavy case. When the returning guards interrupt the heist, John and Andrew escape, while a cornered Alan is forced to swallow the stone. The next day, Andrew is delighted that the crime has made the front page headlines and laughs at the description of Stan overpowering the ambulance attendants and escaping, until John tersely reminds him that Alan is in jail and they do not have the stone. After his doctor tells John that he could develop an ulcer due to high stress levels, John reluctantly meets with Andrew, Amusa and Alan's lawyer and father, Abe Greenberg. Abe informs them that Alan has the diamond and will negotiate directly with Amusa unless the others break him out of jail. John demands a "very large" truck from Amusa, who agrees to provide the vehicle. The next night, using information passed on by Abe, Alan attacks his cellmate in order to be moved closer to the infirmary. That evening, John and Andrew cut the prison chain link fence and climb a security wall and Alan easily unlocks a rooftop door to the jail near the infirmary. After overcoming the guards, John and Andrew break into Alan's cell and hustle him away, but the men are slowed by Alan's struggles climbing the rope. As the men sprint toward the opening in the fence, the alarm sounds and tower guards fire at them. Stan roars up in a bullet-proof Mercedes and the group make a wild escape driving to a nearby truck stop. There, they pull into an enormous semi where they wait until dawn before making a clean escape. Upon meeting with Amusa the next day, the others are all startled by Alan's confession that when he feared the police would confiscate the diamond, he hid it at the station before being transferred to jail. Realizing they must now break into the police station, a frustrated John nevertheless devises a plan and requests a helicopter from Amusa. Although uncertain of Stan's professed piloting abilities, the others join him on the chopper a day later, again wearing guard's uniforms. After some fumbling, Stan manages to take off and the men fly through Manhattan where they initially land on the wrong roof before arriving atop the Ninth Precinct building. After cutting the phone wires and jamming the short wave signal, the men use smoke bombs and tear gas to sow confusion inside the precinct, but when they get to the place where Alan hid the stone, they discover that it is gone. After fleeing the station, a discouraged Stan declares he wants out of the deal, but John admits he has grown obsessed with getting the diamond. Perplexed about not finding the stone, Alan reflects out loud that the only one who knew of the diamond's hiding place was Abe, and the others realize Abe has double-crossed his son. John then arranges to meet Abe at an abandoned warehouse where they pretend to torture Alan to force Abe to admit stealing the stone. Initially Abe scoffs at them, but when Alan is apparently tossed down an elevator shaft, Abe grows fearful and eventually provides John the key to his bank safety deposit box. At the bank later, however, John quickly realizes that the security measures will not admit anyone but the box holder to the secured area. Furious, but determined, John meets with Amusa, who expresses his disgust with the thieves' failure and announces his plans to negotiate directly with Abe. John, who retains the box key, promises to meet them at the bank, then hastily arranges with a former associate, hypnosis specialist Miasmo, to hypnotize the bank security manager. As Abe and Amusa head toward the bank, John arrives first and asks to see his security box. Once in the secured area, he triggers the manager's hypnotized command and accesses Abe's security box, where he finds the Sahara stone. Pocketing the stone, John leaves the bank just as Abe and Amusa arrive. Joining his partners blocks away, John and the others drive happily through the streets of New York.

Crew

Ira Anderson Jr.

Special mech Effects

Alice Bell

2d Assistant Director

Fred W. Berger

Film Editor

Ed Brown

Director of Photography

James Brown

1st Assistant Camera

Ray Brown

Sound track musician

Irving Buchman

Makeup

Adjer Cowan

Stills

Joe Dehn

Wardrobe

Vinnie Delaney

Best Boy

Robert Drumheller

Set Decoration

Dennis Dudimer

Sound track musician

Dick Falk

Gaffer

Peggy Farrel

Wardrobe

Victor Feldman

Sound track musician

Claire Fischer

Sound track musician

John Foster

Helicopter pilot

Monroe Friedman

Unit Publicist

Peter Gabarini

Camera Operator

David Golden

Prod Executive

David Golden

Executive prod Supervisor

William Goldman

Screenwriter

Alixe Gordin

Casting

Bobby Jean Hall

Sound track musician

Milton Holland

Sound track musician

Quincy Jones

Composer

Quincy Jones

Music

Carol Kaye

Sound track musician

Frank P. Keller

Film Editor

Hal Landers

Producer

Tay Lihler

Composer

John Robert Lloyd

Production Design

Carey Loftin

Stunt Coordinator

Mike Melvoin

Sound track musician

Ruth Morley

Costume Design

John Mortensen

Props

Gerry Mulligan

Sound track musician

Marty Nallon

Key grip

John Nicolella

2d Assistant Director

Tony Parmelee

Special Effects

Bobbi Porter

Sound track musician

Chuck Rainey

Sound track musician

Emil Richards

Sound track musician

Jerome Richardson

Sound track musician

Bill Rinehart

Composer

Bobby Roberts

Producer

Bob Rogow

Boom

Frank Rosolino

Sound track musician

James Sabat

Sound

Phil Schier

Music mixer

Nick Sgarro

2nd Unit Director

Theodore Soderberg

Sound

Grady Tate

Sound track musician

Tommy Tedesco

Sound track musician

Clark Terry

Sound track musician

The Don Elliott Voices

Vocals

Morris Weiman

Set Dresser

Allan Wertheim

2d Assistant Director

Douglas Williams

Music mixer

Donald Winclair

Sound Recording

Jack Wright Jr.

Props

Saul Wurtzel

Unit Production Manager

Ted Zachary

Assistant Director

Ron Zarilla

2d Assistant Camera

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Comedy
Crime
Release Date
Jan 1972
Premiere Information
New York opening: 26 Jan 1972; Los Angeles opening: 9 Feb 1972
Production Company
Landers-Roberts, Inc.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, USA; New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Hot Rock by Donald E. Westlake (New York, 1970).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1

Award Nominations

Best Editing

1972

Quotes

It's good, and it's bad. There's a guaranteed return, and that's good. But the guarantor is Amusa, and Amusa's a rookie, and that's bad. But it's an easily transportable object, and that's good. Only it's in a rotten position in the museum, 30 steps to the quickest exit, and that's bad. And the glass over the stone, that's bad too, because that's glass with metal mixed in it, bulletproof, shatterproof. But the locks don't look impossible, 3, maybe 5 tumblers, but there's no alarm system, and that's the worst, because that means no one's going to get lazy watching, knowing the alarm will pick up their mistakes. Which means the whole thing has got to be a diversion job, and that's good and that's bad, because if the diversion's too big, it'll draw pedestrians, and if the diversion's not big enough, it won't draw that watchman.
- Dortmunder
Dortmunder, I don't know where the hell you are, or what the hell you say. Just tell me, will you plan the job?
- Kelp
It's what I do.
- Dortmunder

Trivia

Composer Quincy Jones was so impressed by the performance of his musicians for the soundtrack of the film, that he requested to Twentieth Century-Fox and the producers of the film to give them on screen credit during the opening credits of the film. The featured performers given credit on screen were (among others): Gerry Mulligan, Grady Tate, Jerome Richardson, Frank Rosolino, Clark Terry and the Don Elliott Voices, who were all popular jazz musicians at the time.

Notes

The Hot Rock was filmed on location in New York City. Filmfacts indicated that the film had a five milion dollar budget. During the sequence in which the four thieves fly a helicopter through downtown Manhattan, the then partially constructed World Trade Center is visible. The building, completed in 1973, was destroyed in September 2001. The Hot Rock was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Film Editing.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States February 1972

Released in United States Winter January 1972

Based on the Donald E. Westlake novel "The Hot Rock" (New York, 1970).

Released in United States Winter January 1972

Released in United States February 1972