Stream On: families that steal together…? ‘Heat’ and ‘The Killing’

By on October 26, 2023

“Behind every successful man, there is a woman.” (Anon.)

Stanley Kubrick’s third feature film, The Killing, and more recently, Michael Mann’s Heat, enhance the drama of collective caper movies by including the crooks’ families in the action.


/Amazon /Streaming /🍅89%🍟94% /Trailer /1995 /R

“Allow nothing to be in your life that you cannot walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner.” (Neil McCauley)

Heat is based on a true story, that of one Neil McCauley, a professional criminal who was tracked down by Detective Chuck Adamson, who later created the television crime drama Crime Story, and wrote four episodes of Miami Vice. Heat director Michael Mann was executive producer of Miami Vice and directed the 2006 film adaptation.

Heat is a tour de force, from Mann’s script to his direction, and has a great cast. It was the first time Robert De Niro (McAuley) and Al Pacino (as Detective “Vincent Hanna” of the LAPD) appeared together (they were both in Godfather II, but never in the same scene). Val Kilmer (Tombstone), Jon Voigt (Ray Donovan), Tom Sizemore and Amy Brenneman round out the top of the billing.

McAuley’s crew of disciplined and professional criminals will knock over an armored car or a bank with a minimum of fuss—and when complications arise, they’re “ready to rock and roll,” as Detective Hanna puts it. Their wives and girlfriends are their support system, except for McAuley, a loner, who, during the movie, meets a girl who will put his credo of walking out in 30 seconds to the test.

We also see the private lives of Detective Hanna’s command; but like McAuley, Hanna’s own personal relationship with third his wife (Diane Venora) and stepdaughter (Natalie Portman) is in a state of flux. Hanna pulls McAuley over and arranges to meet him for coffee, where they connect—and bond, while affirming that neither knows “how to do anything else” and that if they meet professionally, neither will hesitate to take the other down if it comes to it. Of course they do meet professionally, in the third act, but not before Hanna’s wife and stepdaughter, McAuley’s new girlfriend, and the wife of McAuley’s right-hand man (Kilmer) influence the action irrevocably. Heat is immersive personally, spectacular objectively (an armored-truck hijacking, a bank robbery and a shootout in the streets of Los Angeles—which is often played for Marines at the Corps’ School of Infantry, to show them the concept of bounding overwatch) and an all-around exciting yarn that could have been written by Jean-Paul Sartre, who posited that “hell is other people” in his play No Exit (1944), about interpersonal conflict.

Roger Ebert wrote, in his 3.5/4-star review: “[Heat’s] not just an action picture. Above all, the dialogue is complex enough to allow the characters to say what they’re thinking: They are eloquent, insightful, fanciful, poetic when necessary. They’re not trapped with clichés. Of the many imprisonments possible in our world, one of the worst must be to be inarticulate—to be unable to tell another person what you really feel.”



/Amazon /Streaming /⭐⭐⭐⭐ /Trailer /1956 /NR

“None of these men are criminals in the usual sense. They’ve all got jobs. They all live seemingly normal, decent lives. But, they’ve got their problems and they’ve all got a little larceny in ’em.” (Johnny Clay)

If Heat is an epic novel, The Killing is an engrossing short story. Stanley Kubrick’s (Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey) third theatrical movie tells a simple but detailed story of a racetrack heist. Like Heat, its cast is deep, and includes the perps’ families.

Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden, Dr. Strangelove) is a veteran criminal planning one last heist before settling down and marrying Fay (Coleen Gray). He plans to rob the money-counting room of a racetrack during a race. He assembles a team consisting of a betting window teller (Elisha Cook, Jr., The Maltese Falcon) to gain access to the back room; a sharpshooter to shoot the favorite horse during the race to distract everyone and keep the winnings from being paid out; a wrestler and a bartender, who needs the money for his sick wife, to provide another distraction by provoking a fight at the track bar to cover Johnny’s entrance to the counting room; and a corrupt cop to receive the loot that Johnny is to drop out of a window.

The teller’s wife is bitter at him for not delivering on the promises of wealth he made when they married, so he tells her about the robbery to impress her and keep her from leaving him. She in turn enlists her lover to steal the loot from him and his associates after they remove it from the track.

Johnny’s plan is meticulous, but as in chess, as we see in the storefront chess club where Johnny goes to recruit the wrestler, it’s dependent on each move being made in order, and much of Johnny’s security depends on each player being insulated from the larger game on a need-to-know basis. There are blunders and a rogue queen move, but after the game, it’s a little dog that puts the kibosh on the whole deal.

Kubrick, who loved chess, was just 27 years old, and controlled the set like Johnny Clay managed his gang. Veteran actor Sterling Hayden said, “I’ve worked with few directors who are that good.” Four stars from Roger Ebert.

(Pete Hummers is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to earn fees by linking Amazon.com and affiliate sites. This adds nothing to Amazon’s prices.)

Click here for more Stream On: What to watch on TV columns by Pete Hummers. Columns are archived and updated when necessary on Substack.


Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

Packages may be added and/or deleted at the discretion of the Construction Manager. Historically underutilized business firms are encouraged to complete participation submittals.

HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).


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