by Sam Cohen
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday May 21, 2019

As much as critics and audiences alike have heralded films like "Bullitt" and "The French Connection" for their contribution to action cinema, we owe the same attention to Peter Yates' "Robbery." Yates is best known for making very unfussy films in the crime genre that don't show a lot of interest in psychoanalysis of characters and the crimes they commit. Instead, he's dedicated to showing the minutiae of pulling off those crimes and how those small moments serve the physical scope.

"Robbery" is considered forgotten by some, so it is with great pleasure that I say that the new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber and their Studio Classics label is the essential US release of the film. Although it's lacking the features that accompanied the UK Blu-ray from a few years back, this reviewer is ecstatic that this unsung crime epic is seeing the light of day with an incredible audio and video presentation.

A heavily fictionalized account of the Great Train Robbery in 1963, where a gang of crooks stole 2.6 million pounds off a Royal Mail train, "Robbery" displays an almost documentary-style recreation of how one of the world's most successful robberies would've taken place. Official court documents about the robbery were used to inform the story of Yate's film, although plenty of information was left out to avoid the risk of accidentally identifying anyone involved with the heist.

This put Yates at both an advantage and disadvantage. It forced him and his team of writers to develop conjecture that would work for a narrative. And while that may be pushing the audience away from the truth, it gave the talented filmmaker the chance to develop techniques he was still testing early on in his career. You can see this from the opening sequence, which thrusts the viewer right into a pitch-perfect thrill ride. "Robbery" paved the way for realistic car chase sequences in popular cinema. In 1967 small cameras had just been made that enabled cameramen and women to shoot taut action on location and not on the backlot at some studio.

It should come as no surprise that cinematographer Douglas Slocombe of "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "The Italian Job" fame was one of the first to perfect the art of cranking up tension in actual physical spaces. When you see cars zoom and narrowly avoid taking out bystanders, it provides a thrill that CGI-riddled features of today can't achieve.

This "Robbery" Blu-ray comes with a really insightful documentary track from Film Critic Nick Pinkerton. Pinkerton, whose work you should look up immediately after reading this, has the unmistakable skill of being able to talk about visual aesthetic and how it applies to the history of the art form. Pick this release up as soon as possible.

Other special features include:
•Original Theatrical Trailer


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