About The Production
After enjoying a successful collaboration on The Untouchables as writer and producer, respectively, David Mamet and Art Linson decided to reunite to make a film noir-caper movie. The result is Heist, a smart, complex ensemble about a masterfully-minded gold robbery.
Marrying the two genres required the finesse of Pulitzer Prize winning. Oscar nominated auteur
Mamet, who counts Heist as his ninth film as writer-director. "Film noir is rooted in two major elements," Mamet explains. "One is violence, and the other is irony. I think that's what makes a film noir different from a simple gangster film. Gangster films are essentially sentimental. They're violent and they're sentimental. And film noir is violent and unsentimental. It's much colder than a gangster film. Violence is emotional, so to treat it unemotionally almost automatically makes it ironic."
Although Mamet characterizes Heist as a film noir, in truth, David Mamet films defy standard categorization and are often counted as a genre unto themselves. With over 20 films bearing his stamp as either writer or writer-director, and having been an inspirational force in theater since the 1970s, it's common to hear cineasts and theater buffs refer to coarse, rapid-fire, naturalistic dialogue as "Mamet-esque." And it's not only the stylized language that stands out in Mamet's films — it's the pure joy the actors experience in delivering lines they'd never get from anyone else.
"It's always interesting to work with a writer-director," Gene Hackman muses. "It's fascinating to see a director try to work his way out of the problems that arise, problems he may have caused himself because he's the writer. But David's very fluid — on those rare occasions, he worked everything out smoothly."
"I'm a big, big fan of David Mamet's," Danny DeVito enthuses. "It's really an art, what he does. His words are so clean and clear. It's a challenge as an actor because he has his own language, but that's another thing that's fun — to make his language your own. It was so much fun playing a bad guy and saying all those things. I love saying his words."
"The dialogue is fantastic in this movie," Sam Rockwell concurs. "I get to say the coolest things. I have this one scene, it's a long monologue with Fran, where I deliver the kind of speech an actor dreams of playing. It's like Bogart at the end of The Maltese Falcon, or Nicholson at the end of Chinatown."
Ricky Jay, whom Mamet directed in his smash Off Broadway one man show, Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants, draws a parallel between the renowned writer-director's unmistakable writing and his own background in the world of magic: "My mentor, the late great Guy Vernon, who many people thought was the greatest sleight of hand artist in the world, is credited with saying, 'In the performance of good magic, the mind is led, step upon step, to ingeniously defeat its own logic.' That's the way I view David's writing."
When Gene Hackman first read the Heist screenplay, he liked the idea of "how clever Joe Moore is, and how cleverly he and his co-conspirators pull these jobs with a minimum of violence. The emphasis is on skill, mental acuity and the preparation for any potential twist or outcome."
"One of the things that I responded to in the screenplay is the language," Delroy Lindo says. "What David Mamet writes is full of subtext, full of characters saying one thing and meaning any number of other things, and that was the particular challenge in this work, attempting to fill in the emotional life behind the words as fully and clearly as possible."
A leitmotif of Heist, as well as other Mamet films, is loyalty -- which plays out in his creative process as well. In addition to Rebecca Pidgeon and Ricky Jay, two Mamet regulars who appear in Heist are Patti
LuPone, who plays Betty Croft, a U
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