The Brink's Job (1978)

PG | 118 mins | Comedy | 29 December 1978

Director:

William Friedkin

Writer:

Walon Green

Producer:

Ralph Serpe

Cinematographer:

Norman Leigh

Production Designer:

Dean Tavoularis

Production Companies:

Dino De Laurentiis Corporation , Universal Pictures
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HISTORY

End credits include the following epilogue: “After serving fourteen years in prison, the men who robbed Brink’s were paroled and returned to live comfortable lives in Boston. To this day, despite continuing efforts by the F.B.I., less than $50,000 of the stolen money has been recovered.” End credits also contain the following acknowledgement: “With special thanks to Brink’s Incorporated for its cooperation. Since 1859, nobody has ever lost a penny entrusting their valuables to Brink’s. Brink’s is a Registered Trademark of Brink’s Incorporated.”
       The Brink’s Job is based on the infamous 1950 Brink’s Corporation heist in Boston, MA, according to a 4 Jun 1978 LAT article. Producer Ralph Serpe first came up with the idea to make the movie in 1972 on the suggestion of Tony Pino, the leader of the gang of eleven men responsible for the robbery. Serpe spent six years developing the project along with filmmaker Dino De Laurentiis who bought the film rights to Noel Behn’s 1977 book, Big Stickup at Brink’s , upon which the film is based, for $300,000. Serpe spent an additional $250,000 toward the film's development and offered $5,000 and a percentage of the film’s profits to each of the gang members to ensure their collaboration, although Pino, the leader, died in 1973 before the project was filmed.
       A 1 Aug 1974 HR news item, which referred to the film by its working title, The Great Brink’s Robbery, announced that principal photography was scheduled to begin in 1975 in Boston. However, a 15 Mar 1976 DV news item later reported that Dustin Hoffman was in ... More Less

End credits include the following epilogue: “After serving fourteen years in prison, the men who robbed Brink’s were paroled and returned to live comfortable lives in Boston. To this day, despite continuing efforts by the F.B.I., less than $50,000 of the stolen money has been recovered.” End credits also contain the following acknowledgement: “With special thanks to Brink’s Incorporated for its cooperation. Since 1859, nobody has ever lost a penny entrusting their valuables to Brink’s. Brink’s is a Registered Trademark of Brink’s Incorporated.”
       The Brink’s Job is based on the infamous 1950 Brink’s Corporation heist in Boston, MA, according to a 4 Jun 1978 LAT article. Producer Ralph Serpe first came up with the idea to make the movie in 1972 on the suggestion of Tony Pino, the leader of the gang of eleven men responsible for the robbery. Serpe spent six years developing the project along with filmmaker Dino De Laurentiis who bought the film rights to Noel Behn’s 1977 book, Big Stickup at Brink’s , upon which the film is based, for $300,000. Serpe spent an additional $250,000 toward the film's development and offered $5,000 and a percentage of the film’s profits to each of the gang members to ensure their collaboration, although Pino, the leader, died in 1973 before the project was filmed.
       A 1 Aug 1974 HR news item, which referred to the film by its working title, The Great Brink’s Robbery, announced that principal photography was scheduled to begin in 1975 in Boston. However, a 15 Mar 1976 DV news item later reported that Dustin Hoffman was in talks with Serpe to play gang leader, Tony Pino. Also under consideration at that time were James Caan and Robert Duvall, and Hal Ashby was negotiating to direct, but none of the men remained with the project. On 13 Dec 1976 LAT announced that John Frankenheimer had been hired to direct the project for Laurentiis and United Artists (UA). Although Al Pacino and Frank Sinatra were “conjectured” for casting, Frankenheimer told LAT that their roles were not confirmed. Neither Pacino nor Sinatra are credited in the film.
       While the 13 Apr 1977 Var reported that David Zelag Goodman and Bruce Nicolaysen had completed a “final draft” of the screenplay, only Walon Green is credited onscreen. Robert L. Rosen was listed as executive producer at that time, but he is not mentioned in the film’s credits. In May 1977, the film transferred from UA to Columbia Pictures and was given a new working title, Big Stick Up At Brink’s, according to 10 May 1977 DV and 23 May Box 1977 news items. Principal photography of the Goodman-Nicolaysen script was scheduled to begin mid-Jul 1977. However, two months later, a 25 Jul 1977 HR news item stated that both Frankenheimer and executive producer Robert L. Rosen withdrew from the project because filming had been postponed and the delay conflicted with other commitments. Disputing the claim, the 4 Jun 1978 LAT article stated Serpe’s contention that De Laurentiis bought Frankenheimer out of his contract when he realized he was the wrong director for the project. Not long after, William Friedkin asked to be Frankenhemer’s replacement as director, and Peter Falk signed on to star in the picture for a fee of $600,000.
       An 18 Apr 1978 HR news item states that production would begin that day in Boston with Universal Studios set to distribute. Two months later, Universal changed the film’s title to The Brink’s Job, as announced in a 28 Jun 1978 HR news item. The budget was set at $12 million with Universal contributing $6 million to match De Laurentiis’s $6 million, as stated in a 3 Jan 1979 Var article, but the final cost was estimated at $15.5 million.
       As explained in the 4 Jun 1978 LAT article, Friedkin studied the work of artist Edward Hopper as well as old photographs and blueprints of the original 1950’s Brink’s Corporation facility. The location of the old Brink's facility on Boston's Prince Street, which had been converted into a garage in the intervening years, was restored at the cost of $250,000. Brink’s reportedly provided armored trucks, moneybags and badges from the period for filming before asking for final script approval. The company ultimately denied approval and threatened legal action by denying the production the right to use their trade name in the film, but Serpe convinced the company to “laugh at itself” over its past mistakes and the production moved forward.
       On 28 Jul 1978, as principal photography was one week from completion, three armed robbers talked their way into the editing bay of the Brink’s Production Film Company and held several of the staff at gun point as reported in the LAT and NYT on 29 Jul 1978. The editors were handcuffed, threatened and assaulted while the robbers requested and stole specific film footage for “the Scollay Square reels.” The Boston Police Department reported that the thieves knew exactly what they were looking for and chose the scenes that would be the most costly and difficult to reproduce. The value of the footage was estimated around $100,000 to $1 million. While speculation arose that the robbery was a publicity stunt to promote the film, Friedkin disputed the claims. Shortly after production ended in Boston, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) probed an extortion demand made by the thieves, as mentioned in 9 Aug 1978 HR and DV articles. The gunmen initially demanded $600,000 for the return of the prints, and later lowered their ransom to $500,000. However, the filmmakers realized that the stolen film consisted of duplicates taken from original negatives and was therefore worthless. When Serpe offered the extortionists $20,000, they broke off negotiations. Meanwhile, the FBI focused on a list of suspects, which included an alleged New York City burglar who was hired to teach cast members to pick locks. The man had been fired a few days before the theft and was one of several “criminals” the production hired as consultants.
       In Dec 1978, the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) television news reported that the U.S. Justice Department was investigating the possible role of organized crime during the production, as stated in an undated DV article. Boston Police claimed that the production bribed “mobster figures” to encourage residents of Boston’s North End to cooperate during filming. In the broadcast, De Laurentiis stated that “payoffs” and problems with the local Teamsters Union added $1 million to the budget. NBC also alleged that Teamsters forced the production into hiring “twice as many Teamster drivers as actually required,” according to a 14 Dec 1978 HR article. In a 19 Dec 1978 HR follow up, a De Laurentiis spokesman claimed the producer had been misunderstood due to his poor grasp of the English language; his term “pay off” was intended to mean “pay out.” The $1 million in question was reportedly spent on union salaries. In Feb 1978, De Laurentiis testified before a federal grand jury about the alleged “pay offs” to the mafia. Although NBC claimed De Laurentiis was also being investigated for his "movement of money in and out of the United States, the head of the New England Organized Crime Force would not confirm the investigation, according to a 8 Feb 1979 DV article. In a 9 Feb 1979 DV article, De Laurentiis upheld his innocence and stated he was cooperating fully with the investigation. On 12 Jun 1981, a LAHExam article announced that three members of Boston's Teamsters Local 25 were arrested on charges of extortion. The FBI stated that the men were responsible for victimizing “nearly one-third of the movies filmed in New England over the past 10 years,” including The Brink’s Job, by “inputting on the payrolls of the film companies people who either did not show up for work or who did not exist.” As reported in a 17 Mar 1982 Var article, two of the Teamsters, William Bratton and Hartley Greenleaf, were found guilty of racketeering and mail fraud and were sentenced to jail time. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 May 1977.
---
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1976.
---
Daily Variety
10 May 1977.
---
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1978.
---
Daily Variety
9 Aug 1978.
---
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1978.
---
Daily Variety
8 Feb 1979.
---
Daily Variety
9 Feb 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1974.
---
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
31 Jul 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
3 Aug 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 1978
p. 3, 35.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Dec 1978.
---
Hollywood Reporter
14 Dec 1978.
---
LAHExam
12 Jun 1981.
---
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 1976.
---
Los Angeles Times
4 Jun 1978
Calendar, pp. 48, 50-51, 53.
Los Angeles Times
29 Jul 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
8 Dec 1978
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 1978.
---
Los Angeles Times
16 Dec 1978
Section I, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
24 Dec 1981
Section V, p. 5.
New York Times
29 Jul 1978
p. 6.
New York Times
8 Dec 1978
p. 13.
New York Times
15 Dec 1978.
---
Variety
13 Apr 1977.
---
Variety
25 Jan 1978.
---
Variety
21 Jun 1978.
---
Variety
2 Aug 1978.
---
Variety
15 Nov 1978.
---
Variety
13 Dec 1978
p. 24.
Variety
20 Dec 1978.
---
Variety
27 Dec 1978.
---
Variety
3 Jan 1979.
---
Variety
17 Mar 1982.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Dino De Laurentiis Presents
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Asst cam
Asst cam
Asst cam
Rigger-gaffer
Key grip
Elec dept supv
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
Asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
2d prop master
Const coord
Const foreman
Painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Asst cost des
MUSIC
Conducted by
SOUND
Sd re-rec
Sd re-rec
Sd re-rec
Dubbing supv
Supv sd ed
Supv sd ed
Boom man
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting dir
Prod services
Prod services
Transportation coord
Loc mgr
Prod office coord
Secy to the dir
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the book Big Stick-up at Brink's! by Noel Behn (New York, 1977).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Accentuate the Positive," written by Harold Arlen and John H. Mercer, sung by Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters, courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
"In the Mood," written by Joseph C. Garland and Andy Razaf, performed by Glenn Miller and his Orchestra, courtesy of RCA Records.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Great Brink's Robbery
The Big Stick Up at Brink's
Release Date:
29 December 1978
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 8 December 1978
Production Date:
18 April--2 August 1978 in Boston, MA
Copyright Claimant:
Dino DeLaurentiis Corporation
Copyright Date:
12 February 1979
Copyright Number:
PA25163
Physical Properties:
Color
Color by Technicolor®
Lenses/Prints
Lenses and Panaflex Camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
118
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
25479
SYNOPSIS

In 1938 Boston, Massachusetts, Tony Pino and his gang – Vinnie Costa, Stanley “Gus” Gusciora and Sandy Richardson – break into a local slaughterhouse. The police quickly surround the place and all escape except Tony, who is imprisoned for six years. In 1944, Tony is released and comes home to a hero’s welcome from his neighborhood, friends and family, including his wife, Mary. Now working at a diner, Tony receives a visit from a local bar owner, Joe McGinnis, who wants to join Tony as a partner-in-crime, but Tony turns him down, claiming he is happy with his gang. When Sandy returns home from WWII on a forty-eight hour leave, Tony wants to orchestrate another robbery and Sandy recommends that a local illegal gambling broker, Jazz Maffie, join them. Sometime later, the gang breaks into a candy factory. After an exhaustive effort, they steal the company safe, but find only $13 inside. Later, as Vinnie and Tony inspect a local charity, Tony spots a Brink’s armored car driving into a nearby warehouse where an entire fleet of trucks unloads bags of money. The next day, Tony poses as a sparkplug salesman in order to look over the warehouse. He discovers that Brink’s Security is extremely unguarded and makes a copy of a key to the building when he is left alone. Later, as they follow a truck, Tony explains to Vinnie that Brink’s uses cheap locks. Sandy later joins his friends as they study the Brink’s truck drivers’ routines. When the time is right, they rob a truck of $100,000, and take the money to Mutt Murphy, ... +


In 1938 Boston, Massachusetts, Tony Pino and his gang – Vinnie Costa, Stanley “Gus” Gusciora and Sandy Richardson – break into a local slaughterhouse. The police quickly surround the place and all escape except Tony, who is imprisoned for six years. In 1944, Tony is released and comes home to a hero’s welcome from his neighborhood, friends and family, including his wife, Mary. Now working at a diner, Tony receives a visit from a local bar owner, Joe McGinnis, who wants to join Tony as a partner-in-crime, but Tony turns him down, claiming he is happy with his gang. When Sandy returns home from WWII on a forty-eight hour leave, Tony wants to orchestrate another robbery and Sandy recommends that a local illegal gambling broker, Jazz Maffie, join them. Sometime later, the gang breaks into a candy factory. After an exhaustive effort, they steal the company safe, but find only $13 inside. Later, as Vinnie and Tony inspect a local charity, Tony spots a Brink’s armored car driving into a nearby warehouse where an entire fleet of trucks unloads bags of money. The next day, Tony poses as a sparkplug salesman in order to look over the warehouse. He discovers that Brink’s Security is extremely unguarded and makes a copy of a key to the building when he is left alone. Later, as they follow a truck, Tony explains to Vinnie that Brink’s uses cheap locks. Sandy later joins his friends as they study the Brink’s truck drivers’ routines. When the time is right, they rob a truck of $100,000, and take the money to Mutt Murphy, who offers only 20¢ on the dollar to launder the money. When Tony later discusses the robbery with his wife, Mary, he wonders why Brink’s has not reported the theft. She suggests they do not want bad press to ruin their reputation. Tony believes the Brink’s warehouse is an easy target and spends several weeks observing the building and its employees. One night, he plans to test the alarm system but is shocked to find there is not one. Breaking into the building, he realizes most of the doors are unlocked. The secured place in the building is the money vault but it is guarded by a cheap alarm. The next day, Tony laughs as he reads the Brink’s brochure that boasts about its elaborate security. After a local bank is robbed, Tony and the gang are rounded up and interrogated by police. Tony chats with James Joseph “Specs” O’Keefe, a former Army explosives expert. Believing his knowledge would be helpful, Tony invites “Specs,” along with the rest of the gang, to join him in robbing the warehouse. After breaking into the warehouse, Vinnie discovers the company ledgers and realizes the company processes up to $4 million in payroll money per week. As they discuss methods to break into the vault, Specs suggests they blow it up and kill security personnel, prompting the rest of the gag to wonder if Specs is mentally stable. The group continues to plan the robbery and Joe McGinnis again asks Tony if he can join. Tony is reluctant, but Joe convinces him that he can guarantee the group 80¢ on the dollar with his connections. On a cold, winter night in 1950, the group successfully pulls off the robbery. The theft makes international news, billed as “the crime of the century.” Vinnie gets rid of the evidence connecting them to the crime while Joe works on laundering the money, planning to hold onto the cash until the statute of limitations on the crime runs out. Meanwhile, Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) director J. Edgar Hoover, orders interrogations of the gang about the theft but they deny any involvement. Eventually, Specs and Gus are arrested in Pennsylvania for another burglary and sentenced to twenty years in prison. While in jail, Specs’ sister falls ill and he demands his share of the money to pay her medical bills. The group argues whether to grant his request, but Joe does not think it is safe to move the money, so Jazz visits Specs in prison and encourages his friend to be patient for nine more months. As the statute of limitations nears its end, the FBI increases pressure on the gang and the group accuses Joe of deceiving them. When Specs confesses to the crime, implicating the entire gang, Hoover calls a press conference to announce the indictments, but the press chides him for spending $25 million to a solve a $2 million robbery and then only recovering $50,000. Defiant, Hoover believes it was important to set an example that crime does not pay. Later, as the gang is brought to the courthouse, the crowd outside cheers them on as heroes. As people clamor for autographs, one onlooker tells Tony: “You’re the greatest thief that ever lived. No one will ever do what you did.” +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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