The Day They Robbed the Bank of England (1960)

85 mins | Drama | July 1960

Director:

John Guillermin

Writer:

Howard Clewes

Producer:

Jules Buck

Cinematographer:

Georges Perinal

Editor:

Frank Clarke

Production Designers:

Peggy Gick, Scott MacGregor

Production Company:

Summit Film Productions, Ltd.
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HISTORY

The opening credits contain the following statement: "The producers gratefully acknowledge the assistance given them by the War Office and Her Majesty's Brigade of Guards in providing officers and men for this production. Thanks are especially due to the Scots Guards." According to the pressbook for the film, it was inspired by a number of actual incidents in the history of the Bank of England. In the 1840s, an employee of a sewer maintenance company, while repairing some brick work, discovered a ventilation shaft that went under the Bank floor from a dried-up stream.
The man subsequently wrote letters to a director of the Bank of England, boasting that he could break into the vaults, and after he stated a specific time in which he would do this, armed guards were instructed to wait inside the vault. When the man broke through the floor, he was given a bonus of 1,000 pounds for his honesty. In 1872, the Bank was robbed of five million dollars, the only time such a robbery was successful. Three Americans involved were sentenced to life imprisonment, but were pardoned by Queen Victoria after twenty years. According to NYMirror , the story of Irish revolutionaries robbing the Bank had become an Irish legend.
       According to a 14 Sep 1959 HR news item, Geoffrey Tyrell and Arthur Lowe were added to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The film’s pressbook relates that the Bank declined to give permission to film its vaults for security reasons, but that the sets were based on sketches and old prints from the British Museum of the vaults as they ... More Less

The opening credits contain the following statement: "The producers gratefully acknowledge the assistance given them by the War Office and Her Majesty's Brigade of Guards in providing officers and men for this production. Thanks are especially due to the Scots Guards." According to the pressbook for the film, it was inspired by a number of actual incidents in the history of the Bank of England. In the 1840s, an employee of a sewer maintenance company, while repairing some brick work, discovered a ventilation shaft that went under the Bank floor from a dried-up stream.
The man subsequently wrote letters to a director of the Bank of England, boasting that he could break into the vaults, and after he stated a specific time in which he would do this, armed guards were instructed to wait inside the vault. When the man broke through the floor, he was given a bonus of 1,000 pounds for his honesty. In 1872, the Bank was robbed of five million dollars, the only time such a robbery was successful. Three Americans involved were sentenced to life imprisonment, but were pardoned by Queen Victoria after twenty years. According to NYMirror , the story of Irish revolutionaries robbing the Bank had become an Irish legend.
       According to a 14 Sep 1959 HR news item, Geoffrey Tyrell and Arthur Lowe were added to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The film’s pressbook relates that the Bank declined to give permission to film its vaults for security reasons, but that the sets were based on sketches and old prints from the British Museum of the vaults as they looked in 1900. The London County Council refused to give permission for the company to film in the sewers, so these were reconstructed on the studio lot. Her Majesty's Scots Guards, including the Regimental Pipers, were filmed on their nightly parade from Wellington Barracks near Buckingham Palace to the bank. The nightly walk had routinely taken place since the Gordon Riots of 1780. This was the first time permission was granted to a film company to have the road and footpaths fronting the Palace cleared. Other scenes were shot at Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire, and at dockyard locations in London.
       Although the film was not Peter O'Toole's first motion picture acting assignment, having had a small role in the Walt Disney Production Kidnapped (see below), The Day They Robbed the Bank of England marked his first major role. The London newspaper the Evening News commented on performance: "It happened again this week--that magical moment in the critic's routine when a magnetic spark seems to come out of the screen and he knows that he is seeing the birth of a great star....I have an idea that Peter O'Toole is going to blaze a fiery trail over our screens that will make some other reigning satellites look stale." According to NYT , after David Lean saw the film at its London premiere, he called O'Toole and asked him to test for the title role in Lawrence of Arabia (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ).
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Aug 1960.
---
Film Daily
19 Jul 60
p. 10.
Green Sheet
Aug 1960.
---
Harrison's Reports
23 Jul 60
p. 118.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Sep 59
p. 1, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1959
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 59
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 60
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
4 Aug 1960.
---
Motion Picture Daily
18 Jul 1960.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Jul 60
p. 781.
New York Mirror
13 Aug 1960.
---
New York Post
14 Aug 1960.
---
New York Times
5 Sep 60
p. 11.
New York Times
5 Feb 1961.
---
Newsweek
1 Aug 1960.
---
The Exhibitor
20 Jul 60
pp. 4721-22.
Variety
25 May 60
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Film adpt
Film adpt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills cam
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond by
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hairdressing
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Administration
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Day They Robbed the Bank of England by John Brophy (London, 1959).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
July 1960
Production Date:
7 September--early October 1959 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Boreham Wood, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Summit Film Productions Ltd.
Copyright Date:
31 December 1959
Copyright Number:
LP19148
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
Metroscope
Duration(in mins):
85
Length(in feet):
7,645
Length(in reels):
9
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19475
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Early in the twentieth century, as Ireland struggles for independence, Charles Norgate, an Irish American, arrives in London to undertake the robbery of the Bank of England, which has never been robbed in its 200-year existence. Iris Muldoon, a widow whose husband Michael died years earlier in the attempt by Irish revolutionaries to take over the Armory, previously had been sent to New York to hire Norgate on behalf of the movement, which desires to rob the bank of a million pounds as part of their political offensive. Norgate, who had once been a mining engineer, gains the Revolutionaries’ confidence by saying that he still has his roots in Ireland. Told that the bank is considered impregnable, he decides to find a weakness in the "Bank Picket," Her Majesty's Brigade of Guards, which keeps watch on the gold. Norgate becomes friends with Lt. Monte Fitch of the Guard, and after he expresses an interest in architecture, Fitch tells him about the museum that houses the designs of the bank's architect, Sir John Soane. At the museum, Norgate breaks into the case containing the plans and traces them. Walsh, one of the revolutionaries who dislikes Norgate, believes there is no way they can get into the vault and tries to talk Mrs. Muldoon, of whom he is enamored, into leaving the movement with him, but she refuses. Although she had an affair with Norgate in New York, she no longer wants to be involved with him either. Since the plans have no scale, Norgate gets Fitch to show him the vault and learns that all the guards walk at exactly the same pace. By counting the ... +


Early in the twentieth century, as Ireland struggles for independence, Charles Norgate, an Irish American, arrives in London to undertake the robbery of the Bank of England, which has never been robbed in its 200-year existence. Iris Muldoon, a widow whose husband Michael died years earlier in the attempt by Irish revolutionaries to take over the Armory, previously had been sent to New York to hire Norgate on behalf of the movement, which desires to rob the bank of a million pounds as part of their political offensive. Norgate, who had once been a mining engineer, gains the Revolutionaries’ confidence by saying that he still has his roots in Ireland. Told that the bank is considered impregnable, he decides to find a weakness in the "Bank Picket," Her Majesty's Brigade of Guards, which keeps watch on the gold. Norgate becomes friends with Lt. Monte Fitch of the Guard, and after he expresses an interest in architecture, Fitch tells him about the museum that houses the designs of the bank's architect, Sir John Soane. At the museum, Norgate breaks into the case containing the plans and traces them. Walsh, one of the revolutionaries who dislikes Norgate, believes there is no way they can get into the vault and tries to talk Mrs. Muldoon, of whom he is enamored, into leaving the movement with him, but she refuses. Although she had an affair with Norgate in New York, she no longer wants to be involved with him either. Since the plans have no scale, Norgate gets Fitch to show him the vault and learns that all the guards walk at exactly the same pace. By counting the paces, he figures out the corridor's length. When he learns that the guards are plagued by rats and that the floor has been reinforced, he goes to the Sewage Commission Records Department and discovers that an underground river, which has been sealed up for forty years, runs under the bank. Norgate finds an old "Tosher," a scavenger of the Thames, and after identifying himself as an archaeologist trying to examine ruins of a Roman temple, persuades the “Tosher” to show him where the river had been walled up. The group purchases a warehouse nearby and digs through until they come to the river. They plan to dig a thirty-foot tunnel during the first weekend in August, the Monday of which is a bank holiday. Before they start, Norgate taunts Mrs. Muldoon, saying she is afraid of herself and what her dead husband might think, and she responds to his kisses. Meanwhile, Lt. Fitch, on duty at the vault, becomes suspicious of Norgate and learns that he has checked out of his hotel. While digging, Walsh hits a gas pipe with his pick and the lights dim until Norgate plugs the hole with a piece of wood and mud. Fitch then commands the keeper, Mr. Greene, to open the vault door, but it can only be opened if the three officials who have keys use them together, and one, Mr. Peabody, is away on holiday. Fitch then orders that Peabody be found and brought to the vault. Meanwhile, O'Shea, one of the revolutionaries, announces that the Irish Home Rule bill is to be reintroduced, and the theft must be stopped, as nothing can be allowed to jeopardize passage of the bill. When O'Shea, who says that the movement will disassociate itself from the thieves as they did when Michael died, Mrs. Muldoon convinces Walsh to go with her to inform Norgate of the change in plans. Walsh arrives as Norgate is about to break through the floor of the vault, and astounded by the gold bars there, Walsh says nothing. They steal a million pounds worth of bullion and are about to dynamite through a sealed entrance, where Cohoun, another of the group, is to be waiting with a tug boat, when Mrs. Muldoon appears and says she sent Cohoun away. Despite her pleas, Walsh and Norgate decide to load the gold into a cart and take it to the warehouse. When Norgate realizes that the “Tosher,” whom Walsh had knocked cold as he rushed past, has not come out, he goes to search for him. The “Tosher,” meanwhile, has revived, and carrying a bust from a Roman ruin, arrives in the vault looking for Norgate, who finds him there. When he sees "the Queen's yellow," the “Tosher” realizes that Norgate is not the gentleman he thought he was. Just then, Fitch and the guard open the vault door, as Peabody has been located and brought back to London. On the street, as a bobby passes by, the gold breaks through the cart that Walsh, in his greed, has overloaded. When Norgate is led to a police wagon in handcuffs, Mrs. Muldoon looks in his eyes with tears in hers. She walks off, and the Tosher wanders away carrying the bust. +

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

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