They Came to Rob Las Vegas (1968)

This movie is about a bunch of poorly-dubbed European actors who get together to rip off an armored car service as an act of revenge for a guy’s brother. Unfortunately, they don’t realize that they’re also ripping off La Cosa Nostra, who happen to be involved in the armored car business, while the US Treasury department also investigates. What follows is an example of everything going bad that possibly could, set to a soundtrack that is ridiculously upbeat at the worst of times, while Jack Palance gives a master class in overacting and nearly everyone else stands around and make comments with homoerotic undertones. Oh, and there are some weird, weird cuts and camera angles in this movie. It has an avant-garde quality in that bizarre 1960s way where I think it was trying to be edgy but instead just became a chore to watch. Ah, Euro-trash at its finest.

Ok, it’s not all bad. The plan for the big heist involves hiding an armored car under the sand in the desert, and it’s actually a surprisingly interesting idea. But the flaws are always the unforeseen problems: the ongoing Treasury investigation, the extra man in the truck, once-loyal criminals going stir crazy in the enclosed, oppressive heat of a man-made cave, that kind of thing. It also has the perfect “oh shit” moment, when our calculating anti-hero Tony discovers gold bars hidden on the truck and suddenly realizes he has stolen something far, far worse than what he believed. He’s also driven by revenge, which makes for the most interesting component of the movie; Tony really doesn’t care about the money, he just wants to get into the armored truck to show it can be done because his older brother was killed trying to do it. It’s a quest that kills his friends, ruins his relationship, and leaves him with a bullet in him and possible mental delusion. And then it ends.

The ending basically has all the bad guys lose as Jack Palance stands up and shouts from a dune. That’s it, there is no real resolution, the movie just suddenly stops. We don’t even know if the Treasury department arrested folks or not. This is a shame, because the movie was already just over two hours. I would rather it lose some of the fat in the middle and the poorly-acted banter between the criminals in exchange for a proper ending. Hell, just show the cops arrive and Jack Palance run in to arrest everyone. Boom, done, put it in the can. Instead…we get nothing. Just Europeans being Europeans while they pretend to be Americans, and Jack Palance shouting madly in the desert…which was a pretty normal thing for Jack Palance.

For fans of heist films, you might be interested. But place this one way down your list. There are a lot of heist films that are significantly better. Save this one for after you’ve exhausted those and are desperate for more.

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