we're about halfway into things now and that finds us in boston, one of my favorite cities in the world, and you can file today's entry under "life imitating art imitating life". in january of 1950, a group of eleven men pulled off what was, at the time, the single largest armed robbery in the history of the united states. they hit the brink's armored car company for a grand total of 2.7 million dollars in cash, checks and securities. things unraveled, as they are wont to do, and the gang disintegrated under mounting pressure from authorities, one even attempting to kill another one via paid hit. six members of the gang were arrested just five days before the statute of limitations ran out and, eventually, all eleven were either dead or imprisoned. it was hardly a total victory for the law, though, as the majority of them were paroled after fifteen years and only 58,000 of the 2.7 million was recovered. a few years later william friedkin adapted the story in the brink's job (1978).
it's one of my favorite heist films and the cast can't be beat - peter falk, peter boyle, warren oates, and gena rowlands, just to name a few. it plays down the more desperate circumstances surrounding the job but is a first rate bit of entertainment. and as a period piece, it is top notch, evoking a sense of eisenhower-era boston that is completely immersive. funnily enough, during production, one of the area residents was paid to remove an air conditioner from his window so that they could film on the street without sacrificing accuracy in the period details. when they showed up to continue filming the next day, every house on the street had a window unit in it. so you can see how they might celebrate a bunch of neighborhood guys pulling off the crime of the century, lovable mugs that botched the finish but still managed to keep the lion's share of the take. north end robin hoods.
enter another real-life group of bunglers. in august of 1978, fifteen unedited reels of the film were stolen at gunpoint. there was a 600,000 dollar ransom demand, but they had stolen nothing but outtakes and dailies. positive prints of the negatives were safely housed, hundreds of miles away, in technicolor's labs in new york city, so all these shenanigans were hardly a bump in the road for post-production and distribution. the ransom demand initiated an fbi investigation and a subsequent ransom call was placed during which friedkin told the thieves to "get a projector and enjoy the film, it is all yours". the ransom was never paid, therefore the reels were never recovered, so as i sit here right now, somewhere in a basement or attic in this town, someone has these things, possibly not even knowing what they are at this point. i like to imagine them sitting up in their attic running them over and over, taking minor consolation that they have the only copy in the world of a brink's job blooper reel.