10 Best Bank Movies

The 10 best bank movies ever always involve a heist of some kind. In some of these great bank movies, the robberies go smoothly, but often they go comically or violently wrong. This list of the ten best bank movies covers bank jobs in the Old West, the Depression and in modern cities and in almost all of them, the robbers themselves are often the most sympathetic characters in the films.

  1. "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." This all-time great opens in a bank where Butch (Paul Newman) watches as new locks and bars are employed for extra security. He asks a bank employee what happened to the old bank. "It was beautiful," Butch says. The bank employee tells him, "People kept robbing it." And Butch answers, "Small price to pay for beauty." And so begins the frustrating tale of Butch, Sundance and the Hole-in-the-Wall Gang and their efforts to rob banks and trains while staying one step ahead of the law.
  2. "Dog Day Afternoon." Based on a true story of a man who robs a bank to pay for his lover's sex-change operation, this Al Pacino vehicle turns a bank robbery and hostage situation into a media circus. It's one of the best movies of the Seventies, and Pacino is just great to watch. He's as loud and abrasive in this role as he was calm and subdued as Michael Corleone.
  3. "Take the Money and Run." Woody Allen starred and directed in this fake documentary about a small-time thief. The scene where several bank employees are consulted about the spelling in Allen's holdup note is a riot.
  4. "Out of Sight." George Clooney started to exert his cool, leading man persona in this Steven Soderbergh-directed story of a bank robber who ends up in jail and then out of jail, where he is then pursued by the sexiest U.S. Marshall ever, played by Jennifer Lopez.
  5. "Bonnie and Clyde." Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway star in this romanticized version of the real-life Depression-era bank robbers who meet an untimely death in a hail of bullets. The famous slow-motion shootout scene sparked considerably controversy in 1967, but the movie went on to earn ten Academy Award nomination, including Best Picture and Best Director, an award the great Arthur Penn should have won.
  6. "Inside Man." Spike Lee directed Clive Owen and Denzel Washington in this bank heist movie from 2006. It sort of flew under the radar when it was released, but it's actually one of Lee's best films.
  7. "Heat." The fact that this was the first movie to finally get Al Pacino and Robet DeNiro in a scene together makes it worth viewing. But the rest of this Michael Mann film, with a cast that also includes Jon Voight, Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Natalie Portman and Tom Sizemore, is full of action and sizzling dialogue.
  8. "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot." This 1974 bank heist film with Clint Eastwood and a young Jeff Bridges (who earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination) works wonders with the old pro/young apprentice formula. George Kennedy and Geoffrey Lewis are also outstanding as Eastwood's old partners in crime.
  9. "Public Enemies." Johnny Depp stars as bank robber John Dillinger and Christian Bale stars as the FBI agent determined to bring him to justice. Both actors are outstanding and so many bullets fly in this movie that the actors said they were tasting metal for weeks.
  10. "The Town." Ben Affleck wrote, directed and starred in this terrific modern-day bank heist film. The robbery seems to go smoothly at first, but when a female hostage is taken and she turns out to be the bank manager, for whom Affleck's characters has feelings, things get very complicated.
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