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THIS IS NOT A ROBBERY (directors: Lucas Jansen/Adam Kurland; cinematographer: Adam Kurland; editors: David Egan/Jamie Gross; music: Oliver Future; cast: J.L. ‘Red’ Rountree, Juanita Adams; Runtime: 71; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Andrew Lauren/David D’Alessio/Lucas Jansen/Adam Kurland; Gravitas Ventures; 2008)
“Proves any citizen has a story to tell.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

This cutesy indie documentary co-directed by Lucas Jansen and Adam Kurland, on a bland subject who only maintains some interest because he changed from a straight-arrow most of his adult life to America’s oldest convicted bank robber when he was an octogenarian, only proves any citizen has a story to tell.The slight documentary, meant for film festivals and probably cable TV, seems astonished that its bank robber protagonist,J.L. ‘Red’ Rountree let a dual life of good and evil. Red was born as the son of a small-farmer in 1911 and died in jail in 2004. He grew up in Texas as a good ole boy, leading a law abiding Christian life as a married businessman raising a stepson and was always a law abiding citizen but would degenerate into a three-time felon for bank robberies and die in a Texas prison in his senior citizen years.

We learn Red made millions while in Houston operating a machine shop that supplied off-shore drillers with equipment and then unwisely put all his money in a shipping concern located in Corpus Christi, and was forced by the bank to declare bankruptcy. Never regaining his lost money and forced to live a more modest lifestyle, Red settled for being a doting husband and a fun-loving good citizen. But when his long-suffering wife Faye died of lung cancer at 75, in 1994, the 83-year-old widow, whose stepson had died in a car fatality years earlier at the age of 23, couldn’t cope with living alone so he took up with a much younger drug-addicted prostitute, Juanita Adams, from Houston. Probably living too long and with bad feelings for banks and disillusioned that he couldn’t get Juanita off heroin, he left her and turned to robbing banks. The frail Red was caught at age 86 and sentenced to a short stint in jail in Biloxi, Ms. When a kindly judge shortened his sentence and released him, soon after Red was again caught robbing a bank in Pensacola, Florida, using his M.O. of never using a weapon but instead passing a note to the teller that said robbery on the outside of the envelope he wanted the stolen loot placed. Red was sentenced to three years in jail, as he was apprehended when an elderly bank customer tripped him during his getaway. Upon his release, he said robbing banks was easy and fun, and he would continue doing so because he hates bankers. Caught robbing a bank in Abilene, at age 92, he was given a 12 year sentence.

Told in a comic book smarty-pants way and filled with interviews by journalist Jim Lewis of Red’s family members, friends and business associates, it’s a diverting pic but as easy to forget as the latest newspaper headlines are the next day.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”