Bold Bank Robbery (Extra): The Outlaw Cut

Assault, carjacking, armed robbery - then the action starts... Not usually cited as a significant or influential film, yet it contains a number of elements that were not commonly found in films at that time, but later were widely used.

Bold Bank Robbery

  1. The plagiarism myth
  2. Antecedents
  3. Legacy
  4. Extra: The Outlaw Cut

The Bold Bank Robbers

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer happy endings. For Bold Bank Robbery, the path to happiness was so obvious and natural that it seems likely that this alternate film was in the filmmaker's mind too: simply reverse the order of scenes (And omit the capture scenes. This also leads to a more wholesome film, as the police raid is particularly brutal). Now you have a rags-to-riches story: the Dream that made America what it is today...

This exhibit of an alternative narrative not chosen by the filmmaker is a reminder that, from its inception, narrative film disseminated values and ideology: i.e., narrative film has always been a form of propaganda.

Yet, at the same time, flipping the narrative was easy precisely because the original film so clearly contained the elements of an alternative narrative.

In The Great Train Robbery, while its bandits remain completely anonymous, the dance scene devotes a full minute (nearly 10% of its running time) to a peek at the lifestyle and camaraderie of the posse (although not very flattering). So flipping the narrative of The Great Train Robbery is not as easy - more so given that it ends with all the outlaws snuffed. Despite the homage to its famous final scene, it is not The Great Train Robbery that is the early cinema archetype for Goodfellas, but Bold Bank Robbery.

In Bold Bank Robbery, it is the police that remain anonymous, and whose most memorable qualities are their brutality in the capture scene, and their buffoonery in the chase scene (8 years before the Keystone Cops). This is hardly by chance: in those early days, Lubin films catered to working-class audiences, that would soon plunk down their hard-earned nickels in the nickelodeons to watch them. That audience, often new immigrants, were more likely to have experiences with police as the violent force of state authority than as protectors of the public. Take, for example, this earlier entry in the Lubin catalog: the 1903 film The Fooled Policeman: An officer takes a prisoner to jail, but they stop on their way to imbibe in the flowing bowl. The officer drinks, but the prisoner throws his liquor under the table and continues to fill the glass of the policeman until he is in a stupor, when he ties him fast to his chair and escapes. The picture ends in a funny manner. When the officer tries to escape he makes a dash for the door, but the rope pulls him back with a jerk and he falls to the floor, meanwhile calling for assistance, which arrives in the shape of a gendarme and a waiter from the inn. Good, rich and funny.

The creator of Bold Bank Robbery, Jack Frawley, undoubtedly at that time understood what Mack Sennett expressed many years later in explaining the popularity of Keystone Cop comedies:

Nearly every one of us lives in the secret hope that some day before he dies he will be able to swat a policeman's hat down around his ears. Lacking the courage and the opportunity, we like to see it done in the movies.

Bold Bank Robbery

  1. The plagiarism myth
  2. Antecedents
  3. Legacy
  4. Extra: The Outlaw Cut

Related:

A Daring Daylight Burglary

One of the models for 'The Great Train Robbery'and 'The Bold Bank Robbery'. Also provides an early taste of the police procedural, in the form of a detailed rendering of emergency medical assistance for the injured policemen (a digression that, regrettably, breaks the pace of the chase).

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Desperate Poaching Affray

'Alas, my hat...'. Desperate, gun-toting, upper-class posse chases desperate, gun-toting, hat-fetishist poachers.

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The Great Train Robbery

Considered a milestone in film making

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