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The Hot Rock Reviews

Redford is a professional thief just out of prison after a four-year stretch, and he is immediately recruited for a job by his brother-in-law, Segal. They meet with Gunn, the ambassador of an African nation, who financially backs their attempt to steal a priceless diamond from a museum, a stone he says rightfully belongs to his government. Redford and Segal recruit wheelman Leibman and explosives expert Sand to help in the robbery, but when the caper comes off, guards swoop down on Sand while he is holding the stone and he swallows it. Redford and Segal then go to Mostel, Sand's father, who helps them launch an assault on the jail to get Sand out. The breakout goes well, but once free Sand tells the robbers that the gem is hidden in the police station. When the robbers go to get it, however, they discover that it is missing and immediately realize that Mostel must have gotten to it first. They force him to admit that the stone is in his safety deposit box; but when they try to get Gunn to finance another robbery, he balks, preferring simply to buy the stone from Mostel. Redford goes into the bank on his own and hypnotizes the guard, who lets him into the box. On his way out of the bank, he sees Mostel and Gunn on their way in. An entertaining comic caper film, THE HOT ROCK was a strange choice for Redford, and he seems very out of place in it. Originally, writer Goldman wrote the script with Segal in mind for the Redford part and George C. Scott for the Segal part. (Scott actually did appear in another film based on the same novel by Donald Westlake, THE BANK SHOT, 1974.) Director Yates, critically hailed for BULLITT (1968), seems to have little idea what to do with Redford, and the slowest parts of the film are the scenes developing his character into someone the audience still doesn't especially care about. The rest of the film, though, is quite enjoyable as the gang commits elaborate caper after elaborate caper, always finding their objective has just eluded them. Keller and Berger's razor-sharp editing garnered an Oscar nomination.