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on April 9, 2005
Another five star review? Well I usually review just my all-time favorites and since I am reviewing this I can say THE HOT ROCK is one of my favorite movies of all time, even if Robert Redford didn't think so. You see, I've read that Redford never had much regard for this film, which might be considered as a minor or lesser effort. In fact he was against having this film released in DVD format. Apparently that request slipped through his fingers as it's available on DVD now.

This might seem to some as a pleasant but unspectacutar Saturday afternoon or 3:00 AM tv movie. It's basically a light comedy with likeable heroes and villains. Nobody gets hurt or dies. There's no bad language or nudity (I like that!!). However, the plot is actually complex and interesting. The plot revolves around the stealing and recovery of the Sahara Stone from the Brooklyn Museum. This priceless diamond is stolen by Robert Redford and his gang through elaborate scheming. Although Redford was in prison and he loses the diamond during the course of the film, his character always seems to be wise. We know that he will succeed in regaining the stone before the end. However, the final twist, which I shall not reveal, is a great touch, and keeps the viewer interested and on the edge of his/her seat.

One other thing I like about this film is that it was shot on location in New York City and Long Island in May/June 1971.

I live here, so I recognize many of the locations. For example, the "State Prison" is actually Nassau County Jail (there is actually no state prison on Long Island). The outside of the Jail where George Segal meets Robert Redford is right on Carmans Avenue in East Meadow. Later in the film they rescue Paul Sand from the prison, and drive off past Modell's Shopping Center on Hempstead Turnpike. The shot of the still-under-construction World Trade Center (during the helicopter scene)is timeless.

It's good that this movie is available on DVD. Although it's a blast from the past, it holds up well after all these years.
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on January 26, 2004
The Hot Rock is a favorite movie of mine that brings back warm memories of my childhood. I loved this movie especially the scene when Dortmunder confronts Murch about not knowing how to fly the helicopter and Murch starts flipping switches, gets it started and takes off. My brothers and I used Murch's line "flip this here, hit this one, this one and this one, then double it over, hit your battery, then your starter and come on baby, come baby--Ha-ha-ha!" all the time when growing up and building cars. It is a classic film set in NYC that all will enjoy and one that goes down as my all time favorite.
My mother (A big Robert Redford fan) would always let me know when it was coming on TV so I could watch it again and again. She said I reminded here of Murch as I could fix or drive anything mechanical and get any engine to start. She recently brought me the DVD for my 40th birthday and I watch it at least once a month.
Redford and his enjoyable cast are funny and very entertaining. It's a great heist film and one that makes you want them to get away with the jewel.
Other great scenes in the film I liked: When "Chicken" pretended to throw Greenberg down the elevator shaft and Abe gets busted for lying about the stone, and when Redford coolly strolls into the back on his last attempt at the diamond. There is also some great close up shots of the World Trade Center while it was under construction. You can actually see thru the building on a fly by.
In a day when many movies are packed with violence and harsh language, this film will bring all whom watch it back to a time when great films were made that could stand on their own without brutality and curse words every other line.
This movie is a classic and I would recommend it to all viewers. I would also love to see (and be involved in any way possible) a remake of this film set here in New Orleans!!!
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on November 8, 2004
I wouldn't say this of a comedy often but... sometimes when you watch them again (and even again), and you notice they keep getting funnier, you know you have a good one. You know that someone's crafted something different. Special. The Hot Rock falls into that category (if there is one).

Redford reteams with William Goldman (who wrote Butch & The Kid). It's a caper film and with a team of characters with names like Dortmunder/Kelp/Greenberg and Murch, you're already in trouble.

The casting is perfect. George Segal, Paul Sands and Ron Liebman round out Redford's team- and they are all priceless. Moses Gunn and Zero Mostel are excellent in their supporting roles.

What I personally think makes this comedy wonderful is, it's written by and American and starring Americans but it's directed by a Brit (Peter Yates). Goldman supplies the lines and I think Yates looked for character traits and the subtle little screw ups in the scenes where they're trying to advance the cause or steal the stone. ie: Murch (with his love of cars), playing a record of the Indy car race on his stereo for his Mom, cracking a beer and they're both in heaven, listening, while in the background- they live right next to the freeway and no one else (who is normal) would be able to hear or notice the difference! " Turn the treble up, Stan! " Funny stuff!

Moses Gunn's face is priceless as they repeatedly hand him the material request needs list, each time they fail. " Will it upset me? " " Yes, " Segal replies, straight faced. " I think it's safe to say so, sir. "

And watch for the priceless sight gag Mostel makes, introducing himself as the lawyer.

It's a film about Murphy's Law and just how funny it can be. We all experience it from time to time, in each of our lives. These poor guys experience it every time they step out the door.

This is witty stuff and a group effort all the way. Redford's the star but you'd never know it. They all shine and they all share. They bounce off of one another (much like he and Newman did in Butch), and it's fun to watch.

If you're looking for a really good caper film that's clever, funny and a good one for some repeat viewings, check out the Hot Rock.
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on August 10, 2005
Robert Redford was such a gigantic star in the early 70's that it was decidedly rare for any of his vehicles to fall between the cracks. This one did, though, and it's a crying shame. (Would that "Indecent Proposal and "The Last Castle" had.) He would later dismiss this film, claiming that it didn't work because the director, the Brit Peter Yates, didn't 'get' American humor. I would suggest that he conduct a reappraisal.

"The Hot Rock" inverts the standard caper plot by offering a crew of crooks--Redford, George Segal, Ron Leibman, and Second City's Paul Sand--who aren't super-slick masterminds or bumbling fools. They're fairly ordinary guys who manage to pull off the theft of a diamond, only to find that the original heist begets more and more heists. As Moses Gunn puts it perfectly at one point, "I've heard of the habitual criminal, but never the habitual crime."

The comedy is played dry, sometimes VERY dry, but once you catch the rhythm it's hilarious. Watch for Leibman and his mother listening to an album of a racetrack--yes, an album of a racetrack--when they live 100 yards from the freeway. And watch especially for the scene on the shore, as Sand demos his various homemade bombs, and a dissatisfied Redford offers a less-than-scientific estimation of how much louder the bomb needs to be. I was rolling on the floor.
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VINE VOICEon November 30, 2008
In a nutshell, master thief Dortmunder (Redford) and his thoroughly New Yawk crew are hired by an obscure and highly nationalist African government to steal (back) a huge diamond. They do, but unintended consequences just keep things going wrong. They adapt, persevere and ultimately overcome.

I don't own this movie, but every time I come across it on the television, I'll stop and watch it all the way through.

I wouldn't call this film a Redford vehicle, although the way the camera looks at him, with his tousled hair and his totally mod but perfectly fitted clothing, you can't miss that this film is almost exclusively about him. George Segal, arguably at the height of his 70s stardom, barely gets in edgewise.

When it comes time to break into the police station, the bumbling cops are good, but my favorite aspect of it is the steadfast realization of the precinct's captain that the revolution has arrived. Made in 1971, there was an awful lot of turmoil, with Vietnam, student violence, demonstrations, significant race problems and economic issues, and this scene took full advantage of that. Look for a very young Christopher Guest as one of the rattled cops.

One of my comedic heroes, Zero Mostel, gets a choice role as a conniving lawyer (is that redundant?). Surprisingly, he's not the raging scene-stealer in this film that he is in almost everything else I've ever seen him in. He fills out his character magnificently, of course, but he's just another one of the fascinating cast of characters.

The film is a wonderful snapshot of a New York City gone forever. The street scenes are as real as you can get, shot on location. The helicopter flight may seem long and drawn out, but other than simply getting their rental fee's worth, one can't help but notice the loving attention given the World Trade Center towers, still under construction. There's also the brown smog of that era; one feels almost sentimental. As the film closes and Redford struts down the urban canyon, you can see the Pan Am--that business concern now long gone--building rising behind him.

You will remember: Afghanistan-bananastan.

Bottom line: This is a wonderfully shot and acted family film, suitable for all ages, an overlooked classic. It is light, fun, and easy to follow, and while may have acted better, he never looked better. The characters are all unique and highly watchable, woven together to make a film that's not only enjoyable, but is also a moment in time of a long-lost New York City.
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VINE VOICEon January 22, 2007
I watched The Hot Rock over the weekend and enjoyed it so much that I'm ordering it to put in my collection. The Hot Rock is one of those movies you can enjoy over and over again. Edgy dialog, a wonderful plot and above average photography make The Hot Rock a winner. As another reviewer points out that the humor is memorable and without any sex, adult situations, off color, bathroom humor. I honestly can't remember a vulgar word being spoke.

Redford is recruited by an African diplomat to steal a large diamond from another African nation. The diamond is on display in a New York musuem in an almost burglar proof glass case. He puts together a team of heist men and comes up with a pretty good plan. In the end they get the stone, but one of the heist guys gets trapped in the museum and he swallows the rock. Redford and his gang bust out their friend but not before he passes the stone in the jail and hides it. One double cross leads to another and well it all works out in the end.

One can enjoy Redford's performance keeping in mind that, The Way We Were, Three Days of the Condor and All the President's men still lay before him. George Segal was just hitting his stride also and is wonderful in a comedic role.

The movie takes place in New York city. It takes pot shots at the police but is far kinder than other movies of the same time period. I found the views of the trade towers during the helicopter scene strange.

The Hot Rock is a winner from every point of view. Zero Mostel is also hilarious.
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on June 30, 2003
THE HOT ROCK IS a forgotten comedy gem starring the enigmatic Robert Redford proving he can do light comedy when given the right vehicle. Fans should look for another forgotten gem he did early in his career (No, not BAREFOOT IN THE PARK), SITUATION HOPELESS, BUT NOT SERIOUS... a WWII comedy starring Redford with Mike ("Mannix")Conners and the great Sir Alec (Obi Wan Kenobi)Guinness. THE HOT ROCK is a light caper film about four jewel thieves, lead by Redford, out to heist a rare diamond in Manhatten. The film is mostly a series of hilarious failed attempts to steal the diamond with some twists and turns, and double crossings. One funny scene is when they use a helicopter to land on one of the New York city building rooftops and they end up on the wrong rooftop because from above, everything looks the same. Good ensemble casting with George Segal (tv's JUST SHOOT ME), Ron Leibman (NORMA REA), Paul Sand, Zero Mostel (THE PRODUCERS). The script has good comedic banter (mostly between Redford and Segal), and the New York City locations are a plus. Overall, one of Redford's forgotten comedy films that ranks up there with SNEAKERS. Note: One interesting (if not sad) part of the film is during the helicopter sequence, is that they fly by the World Trade Center still under construction (the movie was filmed back in 1972).
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on May 29, 2003
Many actors have played John (although some have changed the name to protect Donald E. Westlake) including George C. Scott, Paul Lemat, and Martin Lawrence, but Robert Redford did it first and best. I also think some of Quincy Jones best work was done on the soundtrack. William Goldman did a great transfer of the novel to film.
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on May 14, 2004
Okay, I rate movies by what they are aiming to do; THE HOT ROCK aims to entertain, make you smile, and lend a sense of camaraderie while rooting for crooks. With that in mind, only Cyclops on Visine couldn't rate this anything other than a clear summer night sky.

I've watched this film app. eight times, even showed it to my urban HS basketball team I coached a few years ago, and they loved it.

Without revealing any plot lines, this classic rhymer remains with me to this day: Afghanistan bananastand. The most famous password since the Marx Bros fiddled around with "swordfish."

Just go get this and then wonder how you never seen it before.
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on June 6, 2014
In his long career, Robert Redford liked to try every type of script and here he is in a caper film. If you like the genre I don't think you'll be disappointed. Redford plays a criminal genius just out of prison. He's checked out of the big house and is picked up by his brother-in-law (George Segal) right at the gate--brother-in-law is a safe cracker who has obtained a chance to swipe a "hot rock" and wants Redford to plan the heist. Any doubts Redford's character had about making it on the outside are dispelled; he can go right back to doing what he's good at. He gladly gets down to business. The gem is a priceless national treasure from an African country and it's a diplomat who's engaged their professional services. Redford and Segal gather their gang of specialists and Redford creates a brilliant plan. Something goes wrong. Plan is revised, something goes wrong again. Again plan is revised and another hitch develops. So goes the movie--plan, hitch, revise. All the plans are wildly brilliant and the glitches are marvelously strange. I don't want to give any examples because it's the oddball plan-destroying circumstances that grab the viewer, and create some delightful frustration--even Redford's character gets an ulcer. I'm a Redford fan and have seen the film before, but my husband wasn't interested in watching it. It still got his attention enough to ask, "Do they EVER get the diamond?" A funny, intriguing film that also features Ron Liebman and comic genius Zero Mostel.
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