The Great Bank Robbery (1969 film)

The Great Bank Robbery is a 1969 Western comedy film from Warner Bros. directed by Hy Averback and written by William Peter Blatty, based on the novel by Frank O'Rourke. The movie had a soundtrack with songs by Jimmy Van Heusen.[2]

The Great Bank Robbery
Great Bank Robbery.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byHy Averback
Produced byMalcolm Stuart
Screenplay byWilliam Peter Blatty
Based onThe Great Bank Robbery
by Frank O'Rourke
StarringZero Mostel
Kim Novak
Clint Walker
Claude Akins
Music byNelson Riddle
CinematographyFred J. Koenekamp
Edited byGene Milford
Distributed byWarner Bros.-Seven Arts
Release date
September 10, 1969
Running time
98 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.5 million (US/ Canada rentals)[1]


Gold stolen by outlaws is stashed in the impenetrable bank of Friendly, a small town in Texas. A preacher, Rev. Pious Blue, is actually a thief. He and his associates, including partner Lyda Kebanov, plan to tunnel into the vault and blow it up with TNT, just as a Fourth of July celebration drowns out the noise.

There are complications. A number of rival gangs also are after the loot. Then there is Ben Quick of the Texas Rangers, a lawman out to find evidence confirming the corruption of banker and mayor Kincaid that is also inside the vault.

The reverend's band is successful, distracting the bank's guards by having Lyda pretend to be Lady Godiva, riding nude on a white horse. They intend to escape by hot-air balloon. The gold is too heavy for liftoff, however. Lyda volunteers to abandon ship, in part because she has fallen for Quick, who finds the proof he needs to convict Kincaid while the reverend and the gold fly safely away.


Actor Role
Zero Mostel Rev. Pious Blue
Kim Novak Sister Lyda Kebanov
Clint Walker Ranger Ben Quick
Claude Akins Slade
Sam Jaffe Brother Lilac Bailey
Mako Iwamatsu (as Mako) Secret Agent Fong
Akim Tamiroff Papa (Juan's father)
Larry Storch Juan
John Anderson Mayor Kincaid
Elisha Cook, Jr. Jeb (as Elisha Cook)
Ruth Warrick Mrs. Applebee
John Fiedler Brother Dismas Ostracorn (explosives)
John Larch Sheriff of Friendly
Peter Whitney Brother Jordan Cass (tunneling)
Norman Alden The Great Gregory (balloonist)


Zero Mostel uses the line "What we have here is a failure to communicate" which is similar to (and possibly a parody of or simply just a misquote of) a line from 1967's Cool Hand Luke. This line by Rev. Pious Blue is actually more often quoted than the original line and usually categorized as merely a misquote.

Critical receptionEdit

Vincent Canby of The New York Times had nothing but disdain for the film:

The Great Bank Robbery, the Western farce that opened yesterday at neighborhood theaters, is probably the least interesting movie of 1969 through this date. I hedge because there are several films I haven't seen, and because The Great Bank Robbery is so casually inept it can't support even negative superlatives.[3]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
  2. ^ "The Great Bank Robbery (1969) : Soundtracks". Retrieved 2014-05-14.
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent (1969-09-11). "Movie Review - The Great Bank Robbery - An Inept Western Farce Opens on Local Screens -". Retrieved 2014-05-14.

External linksEdit