With a feature presentation about a bank robbery, everybody wanted to show their favorite theft-themed short. I started out with a Kids In The Hall sketch I’ve always thought of as being entitled “My Pen!”
Basically, Bruce, who works in a building that might be a bank, reluctantly loans out his pen to a customer only to have it disappear.
So, he chases the man down (at one point being dragged along, holding desperately to the side of his taxi) to eventually retrieve it. The guy who walked off with it just doesn’t understand the big deal. Bruce returns to his desk with his pen, chained to a headgear apparatus. You can borrow it, but don’t walk off with it, OK?
The genuine short was presented by Phong. Entitled The Last Theft, and directed by Jirí Barta, it’s a 1987 animated Czech film that follows a man who breaks and enters into a spooky house intent on burglary. It appears that the full short is available on YouTube, so I’ll post that in here in case you want to watch.
So, now that you’ve either watched the film or you don’t care, here’s the (somewhat thin) plot: After pilfering the house for several minutes, finding more and more great stuff, the thief realizes that there are a few silent, creepy occupants. Normally, when the people you are ripping off invite you to a gambling game in which they allow you to win large quantities of money, you may want to think twice about their intentions. Because they are obviously spooky supernatural people who are going to kill you. Duh. Worse than that, at the end of it all, they turn out to be vampires. Fricking zombies and vampires. I mean, I almost want to give it a pass because it’s from 1987 and is clearly not related to the current “Undead Chic” movement, but still…FRICKING ZOMBIES AND VAMPIRES. ENOUGH.
This finally brings us to the feature presentation: The Silent Partner, directed by Daryl Duke. One notable thing about The Silent Partner is that it was not only filmed, but actually set in Canada. They didn’t try to pretend it was in Hoboken or something. (Though the makers of the DVD apparently missed this fact, putting the image of a Benjamin on the DVD menu. Psst! Dudes! Monopoly money in the Great White North!)
Elliott Gould plays a lonely, dorky bank teller, who works at a bank in the middle of a shopping mall, because that’s the way they roll in Canada. He enjoys his aquarium, visits his catatonic father in the hospice, and likes to scratch little love notes to Susannah York into the carbon paper of the bank’s deposit slips. (Note that the characters actually have names, but they’re so unmemorable that…yeah, I forgot already. Sure, I’ve got the IMDB page open and I could get it right, but in all honesty, if I’m not going to remember the characters’ names a week after seeing the movie they don’t really matter.) One day, when writing a futile love note, Gould finds that somebody has already scratched a robbery note into the slip, presumably from a trial run. Instead of telling anybody, here’s where he starts getting clever.
First off, Gould realizes from the similarity of the mall Santa’s “G”s that the would-be culprit is perhaps not as jolly as he makes himself out to be. Second, he comes up with a dastardly plan. Knowing that it’s coming, he slips most of his drawer’s money into his lunchbox before the theft goes down, leaving Santa (Christopher Plummer) with a pretty lousy payout while secreting away the cash in a safe deposit box.
Lest we believe that Santa is the thief with the heart of gold, we get to watch St. Nick go down his naughty list and rough up a teenage girl who really just wanted to sit in his lap. And naturally, when the TV news announces how much money the bank thinks he stole along with a big profile on the hero teller who pulled the alarm (Gould, of course), Santa puts two and two together. He comes after Gould at home.
Gould mistakenly thinks that he can get heat off by setting Santa up for car theft and then refusing to identify him as the bank robber in a lineup. Yeah, like that was going to work. Anyway, things seem peachy enough because Santa gets rung up for roughing up the teen anyway. Then, sadly, Gould’s father passes away. At the funeral, a woman claiming to have been his nurse gloms onto Gould, telling him how much his father would talk about him. His catatonic father. Yeah, Gould’s on to you, honey.
But between this saucy Latin nurse impersonator (working for Santa, of course) and the newly-amorous Susannah York, Gould has two good things going. He’s also got a small problem – his housekeeper has thrown out the jar of (what was it, jelly?) that he was hiding the safe deposit key in. He manages to turn the Latin nurse against Santa (not so terribly hard) and through a bit of playacting with her, manages to get the safe deposit box reopened. But, second problem, Santa gets out of jail early.
A bit sore that his girl has turned on him, Santa slices her head off with broken glass from Gould’s aquarium, and then leaves her head in it for Gould to find. Not a problem, really. Gould has the money, he’s got the other girl, and he’s able to dump the nurse impersonator’s body into a construction site. Unable to get the money due to it being stashed in Gould’s safe deposit box, Santa agrees to stick up the bank again, at which time he expects to get the full payout.
So he dresses up as a woman and in an ill-conceived plan, returns to the bank. Where Gould pulls the alarm and Mrs. Santa gets shot by a security guard. You could kind of see that coming.
I didn’t really see the escalator thing coming, though. And Gould escapes with both the money and Susannah York. The end.