- Jim Brown
- Diahann Carroll
- Ernest Borgnine
- Julie Harris
- Gene Hackman
- Jack Klugman
- Warren Oates
- James Whitmore
- Donald Sutherland
No wonder they're happy. They just stole a half-million dollars in front of a hundred-thousand
witnesses... But watch what happens when it's time for The Split!
Thieves fall out when over a half million dollars goes missing after the daring and carefully planned robbery of the Los Angeles Coliseum during a football game, each one accusing the other of having the money.
Tight, sharp, unfairly obscure little heist flick
The cast list of this film reads like a who's who of 60's and 70's Hollywood character actors. While they don't all get a chance to really shine here, their familiar faces and inherent skills help move this heist flick along nicely. Brown is a ne'er do well thief who returns to Los Angeles just in time to help Harris mastermind the robbery of the L.A. Coliseum during a Rams play-off game.
He enlists the aid of four disparate men (Borgnine, Klugman, Oates and Sutherland) who form a
tenuous alliance, working as a unit just long enough to get the job done and split the $500,000
take. The heist itself is suspensefully handled and skillfully done, but the primary thrust of the
story kicks in when it's time to divvy out the loot, hence the title of the film (brought home even
more in the title of the source novel.)
Brown, though stiff at times, is such a physical presence (and an amiable one) that he anchors the story well, faltering only when it's called upon him to enact scenes of grief. Harris is tough-as-nails as a hard, (big!) red-haired schemer. All of the men in the gang give their customary polished and distinct performances. Borgnine is, of course, the most blustery. Klugman (who would return to this venue in "Two Minute Warning") plays the nervous one. Oates gives the most texture to his role as a wary safe-cracker. Sutherland is a class-act hit man with the necessary cool and effortlessness. Carroll is very attractive in a thankless role of decoration/plot device. Hackman turns up late as the police detective assigned to a murder related to the heist and gives a decent performance. Trivia buffs will note that one of the clerks (Joseph) provided the voice of Melody in the 70's cartoon series "Josie and the Pussycats".
Nearly all of the roles in the film are filled with people who worked extensively as guest stars in major television series. The film is creatively directed, contains bouncy Quincy Jones music and clips along at a very tight pace except for a mouthwash commercial-esquire romantic montage between Brown and Carroll. Some of the plot elements are pretty preposterous (such as Brown's initial sequences of "auditioning" the heist participants), but it makes for interesting viewing. The movie serves as a fun time capsule of the era's fashions and procedures (check out the hair on Borgnine's secretary!) The story is never completely predictable and is at home with other similar (if more polished and better known) films from that time such as "Bullit" and "The Thomas Crown Affair".
Link to soundtrack review
Quincy Jones - The Split (1968)