The Hot Rock

Robert Redford in The Hot Rock (dir. Peter Yates, 1972).

Robert Redford is miscast at the most basic level as Donald Westlake's career thief Dortmunder: the role calls for a Harry Dean Stanton or a Bruce Dern, someone congenitally shifty and undernourished. The book, light comic fare that it is, retains a touch of the same convincingly seedy criminal underworld that Westlake explores (under the pseudonym Richard Stark) in his Parker novels; the film is all bright proto-Sting Hollywood shenanigans, and just this side of TV-movie squareness. It's meant to be rousing good fun, but it feels restrained, even lethargic. The New York locations inject a little color and vibrancy, especially during the unearned buoyancy of the final scene.

1 comment:

Pete Lyons said...

Hi, first time commenter here.

I saw The Hot Rock back in the early 70s in theatrical release as a double feature with Nicolas Roeg's Walkabout - what an odd combo.

I've never read the source material so I can't comment on the casting but at the time I thought it was 'rousing good fun'. The elevator scene had me rolling on the floor. Perhaps it has just not aged well.