A lesser-known entry, “The Hot Rock” is one of screenwriter William Goldman’s wittiest and most witty storylines, and one of the funniest heist movies of all time. Based on the story of Donald E. Westlake, but with a tone much lighter than its source, “The Hot Rock” technically consists of four heists – his hapless gang of criminals attempting to steal the same diamond from a museum , a prison, a police station and, finally, a bank. As their boss (Moses Gunn) says, “I heard about the usual criminal, but never thought I would be involved in the usual crime.”
Robert Redford, George Segal, Ron Liebman and Paul Sand make a brilliantly funny team, constantly bickering and irritating each other. Segal is at his neurotic best as a picker, middleman, and crook (the moment he panics over choosing a museum lock is hysterical). Liebman is great as a determined getaway driver, and Sand’s ineffective explosives expert is so well observed that it’s a wonder he didn’t go on to bigger things. Redford is the glue that holds the whole movie together, however, playing it largely straight but allowing himself a light-hearted moment in the film’s final moments, which is one of the most deserved feel-good endings of an all-time heist movie. Shamefully underrated, “The Hot Rock” deserves much more exposure.