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GOING IN STYLE (director/writer: Martin Brest; screenwriter: story by Edward Cannon; cinematographer: Billy Williams; editors: Robert Swink/Tim O’Meara; music: Michael Small ; cast: George Burns (Joe), Art Carney (Al), Lee Strasburg (Willie), Charles Hallahan (Pete), Pamela Payton Wright (Kathy); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Tony Bill/Leonard Gaines/Fred Gallo; Warner Bros; 1979
“Touching and amusing comedy.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Martin Brest (“Midnight Run”/”Beverly Hills Cop”/”Meet Joe Black”) helms and writes this touching and amusing comedy, that’s based on the story by Edward Cannon.

Three elderly retirees from Queens, Joe (George Burns), Al (Art Carney) and Willie (Lee Strasburg), are roommates in a small apartment and live off their small social security checks. The bored men despondently hangout sitting on a park bench feeding the pigeons and feel useless about their situation. But Joe comes up with the startling idea they rob a bank in Manhattan, which is a shocker for an aged trio that has no criminal history. He convinces his pals by saying they have nothing to lose, they either get away with the crime or spend a few years in jail with the benefit of collecting when released all the SS checks that amassed when they were in prison.

To make the stick-up look real, the boys secretly have Al borrow some pistols from the collection of his neighbor nephew, Pete (Charles Hallahan). They also get Groucho novelty disguises. After smoothly pulling off the robbery for $35,000 and escaping in a gypsy cab, they secretly stash the loot in Pete’s house. Then decide to give nice-guy Pete most of the loot to buy his own gas station. But Willie dies from the excitement before he can spend the money. The two pals after the funeral go to Las Vegas and win over $70,000. When home, Al dies in his sleep. Thereby Joe tells Pete everything, and makes him keep the money in his safety deposit box. The next day Joe is arrested by the FBI. But he refuses to tell where he hid the money, even for a plea deal where he would spend no jail time. As a result he’s imprisoned.

All the sympathy goes to the nice guy old codgers, in this effective but at times strained feel-good sentimental film.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”