The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery is a 1959 heist film shot in black and white. The film noir stars Steve McQueen as a college dropout hired to be the getaway driver in a bank robbery. The film is based on a 1953 bank robbery attempt of Southwest Bank in St. Louis Some of the men and woman from the St. Louis Police Department, as well as local residents and bank employees, play the same parts they did in the actual robbery attempt. Shot on location in St. Louis. Now in public domain.
Steve McQueen shows himself as an ex football hero. He finds himself slowly drawn into the gangster world more and more. Finding himself in need of just $50 more, he asks his ex girl for that amount in a check, supposedly for Gino. The plan starts to unravel when she sees Gino coming out of a restaurant across the street from the bank. When questioned about it George later reveals he's involved with robbing the bank. She writes 'Warning The bank will be Robbed!' with lipstick on the window, the bank taking it as a joke. As the day of the heist grows nearer the tension within the gang heightens with no one trusting anyone. The robbers burst into George's and Gino's apartment that night and demand who talked to the girl about the robbery, seeing the lipstick warning. Gino breaks about his sister's (George's Ex girl) talking to George. George goes to her apartment with the gang and talks her into going to Chicago. Gino and George go to a park and wait. While Willie and John are taking her down the fire escape, John gets fidgety and hurls her off the escape down to the street below. They return to George and Gino, saying nothing about the murder. The next day the robbery is attempted as planned. Meanwhile the bank has replaced the switchboard, previously inside the bank, downstairs to what seems to be a better control room, a system which the robbers were betting on disabling to prevent calls to the police. John distrusts George and compels Willie to drive, instead of George, who will now be inside robbing the bank even though it's his first time on any illegal job. The robbing goes as planned until George can't find the switchboard they wanted to disable. The switchboard downstairs calls the police and they send a squad car over to the bank. When the police arrive, more arriving every second, the robbery goes astray. John gets killed while trying to take a hostage out and Gino commits suicide down in the vaults. Willie flees with the car, leaving his partners behind. George gets shot in the leg. He tries to take a hostage out, the woman's husband offering himself instead. As the wife is in his headlock, his arm aiming the gun at her husband, she says, "It's no use, he's vicious." Realizing just how far he went, George relaxes his grip and falls to the ground, muttering how he isn't 'vicious'. George is taken away, his last sight looking out the bars of the car.
From KETC, LIVING ST. LOUIS Producer Patrick Murphy recounted the "Great St. Louis Bank Robbery" of 1953 at Southwest Bank in a video filmed in October 2007. While it was in progress, the robbery drew a crowd of thousands of people. In the Hollywood adaptation, the police officer Mel Stein played himself. He recalled exactly what he felt and how he remembered his fellow officers. It is available on Youtube.