The heist: Cinema’s most beloved crime subgenre


A program of more than 30 feature films explores one of cinema’s most beloved crime subgenres — the heist — at the Australian Cinémathèque, Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) from 29 April to 26 June 2022 — a journey across diverse cinematic styles from caper, action and film noir to martial arts and comedy. With a seductive mix of gangster cool and cerebral ingenuity, ‘The Art of the Heist’ celebrates films that feature a crafty ensemble of players, a high stakes plan and the lure of the ultimate reward.

The Art of the Heist Tickets now on sale

Art heist and art forgery in films

The film program has some classic crime stories unfolding, and what better way to delve into the program with some juicy heist scandals set in art museums with How to Steal a Million 1966 and Bande à Part (Band of Outsiders) 1964 both set in Paris; and Topkapi 1964 located in Istanbul, Turkey.

DELVE DEEPER: Museums in heist films

Production still from How to Steal a Million 1966 / Director: William Wyler / Image courtesy: Park Circus

‘The Mystery of the Eiffel Tower’ 1928

Le Mystère de la Tour Eiffel (The Mystery of the Eiffel Tower) 1928 is a newly digitally restored film from a sole surviving nitrate film print, the thrilling caper presented with live musical accompaniment from David Bailey on the Gallery’s 1929 Wurlitzer organ on Saturday 4 June at 10.30AM. Tickets on sale now.

DELVE DEEPER: Wurlitzer brings ‘The Mystery of the Eiffel Tower’ back to life

Production still from Le Mystère de la Tour Eiffel (The Mystery of the Eiffel Tower) 1928 / Director: Julien Duvivier / Image courtesy: Lobster Films

‘The Art of the Heist’ program’s line-up includes two genre touchstones: Jules Dassin’s twist-filled masterpiece Rififi 1955, about four criminals plotting one last job; and Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 noir classic The Killing, a suspenseful tale of a meticulously planned race-track robbery. Cinema goers will be enthralled with iconic films as The Asphalt Jungle 1950 directed by John Huston, Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle) 1970 by French director Jean-Pierre Melville, Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs 1992 and Steve McQueen’s women-led caper Widows 2018.

Production still from Widows 2018 / Director: Steve McQueen / Image courtesy: The Walt Disney Company (Australia)
Production still from To Catch a Thief 1955 / Director: Alfred Hitchcock / Image courtesy: Paramount Pictures
Bande à part (1964) / Director: Jean-Luc Godard / Image courtesy: Gaumont

Style played a leading role in heist films such as Alfred Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief 1955 starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant; William Wyler’s elegant How to Steal a Million 1966 featuring Audrey Hepburn; and French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard’s joyously thrilling gangster film Bande à part (Band of Outsiders) 1964, set in the streets of Paris.

Production still from The Italian Job 1969 / Director: Peter Collinson / Image courtesy: Paramount Pictures

Watch the superbly funny British caper The Italian Job 1969 starring Michael Caine; The Thomas Crown Affair 1968, a dazzling game of cat-and-mouse intrigue with Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway; and Joseph Shaw’s electrifying New York subway stick-up The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 1974.

Production still from Topkapi 1964 / Director: Jules Dassin / Image courtesy: Park Circus

Unexpected gems showcasing a unique take on a heist include Jules Dassin’s cheeky European romp Topkapi 1964 with the indomitable Melina Mercouri; an all-woman crew staging a strip club heist in Lorene Scafia’s Hustlers 2019; Taiwanese director King Hu’s complex monastery-set robbery Raining in the Mountain 1979; and the high octane, one-take German film Victoria 2015.

The program closes with the charming Australian comedy Malcolm 1986, a tale of a newly unemployed, chronically shy mechanical genius whose way of relating to the world is through a love of self-built contraptions, who unexpectedly teams up to rob a bank, starring Colin Friels.

RELATED: 5 film suggestions 

Production still from Malcolm 1986 / Director: Nadia Tass / Image courtesy: Roadshow Entertainment

The Art of the Heist

‘The Art of the Heist’ is a ticketed film program screening from 29 April to 26 June at the Australian Cinémathèque, GOMA. Visit the website to purchase tickets.

The Asphalt Jungle 1950 / Dir: John Huston

Armoured Car Robbery 1950 / Dir: Richard Fleisher
The Lavender Hill Mob 1951 / Dir: Charles Crichton
Rififi 1955 / Dir: Jules Dassin
To Catch a Thief 1955 / Dir: Alfred Hitchcock
Bob le Flambeur 1956 / Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville
The Killing 1956 / Dir: Stanley Kubrick
Bande à part
(Band of Outsiders) 1964 / Dir: Jean-Luc Godard

Topkapi 1964 / Dir: Jules Dassin
Cruel Gun Story 1964 / Dir: Takumi Furukawa
How to Steal a Million 1966 / Dir: William Wyler
The Thomas Crown Affair 1968 / Dir: Norman Jewison
The Italian Job 1969 / Dir: Peter Collinson

Le Cercle Rouge (The Red Circle) 1970 / Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville
The Sting 1973 / Dir: George Roy Hill
The Friends of Eddie Coyle 1973 / Dir: Peter Yates
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three 1974 / Dir: Joseph Sargent
Dog Day Afternoon 1975 / Dir: Sidney Lumet
Raining in the Mountain 1979 / Dir: King Hu

Thief 1981 / Dir: Michael Mann
Malcolm 1986 / Dir: Nadia Tass

Reservoir Dogs 1992 / Dir: Quentin Tarantino
Heat 1994 / Dir: Michael Mann
Mission: Impossible 1996 / Dir: Brian De Palma
Bottle Rocket 1996 / Dir: Wes Anderson

Sexy Beast 2000 / Dir: Jonathan Glazer
Oceans 11 2001 / Dir: Steven Soderbergh
The Hard Word 2002 / Dir: Scott Roberts

Fast Five 2011 / Dir: Justin Lin
Drive 2011 / Dir: Nicolas Winding Refn
Victoria 2015 / Dir: Sebastian Schipper
Logan Lucky 2017 / Dir: Steven Soderbergh
Widows 2018 / Dir: Steve McQueen 
Hustlers 2019 / Dir: Lorene Scafaria

Kajillionaire 2020 / Dir: Miranda July

Dip into our Cinema blogs / View the ongoing Australian Cinémathèque program

QAGOMA acknowledges the generous assistance of the National Film and Sound Archive, Canberra; and the Taiwan Film and Audiovisual Institute, Taipei in providing materials for this program. 

QAGOMA’s Australian Cinémathèque presents curated programs, genre showcases and director retrospectives covering the world of film from crowd-pleasing fan favourites and cult classics to hard-to-find international cinema, rare 35mm prints and silent films with live musical accompaniment on the Gallery’s Wurlitzer organ originally installed in Brisbane’s Regent Theatre in November 1929.

Featured image: Production still from The Thomas Crown Affair 1968 / Dir: Norman Jewison / Image courtesy: Park Circus