IMDb Polls

Poll: Heist Film Greats - The Mastermind?

The 'heist' film has developed over many years as a subgenre within 'crime' films. Initially, the format was hooked on how the characters themselves created the failure. Later, the films started looking deeper at the characters and plots and began moving away from the standard tropes.

Every great 'heist' film still maintains familiar elements. One of the 'must-haves' is a mastermind. This person can have many roles to play. They might plan the robbery, pull together the team of specialists and/or play a central role in how the caper plays out. They also may have an ulterior motive for pulling the job.

Below is a list of the finest heist masterminds (in chronological order with a well-known quote for fun) … but which of these is the number one mastermind?

List/Poll Rules Minimum IMDB film rating = 7.0 / Must include a robbery / No remakes (unless first version isn't rated 7.0) / Only the first film in series

Discuss the Poll here.

Make Your Choice

  1. Vote!

    William Talman in Armored Car Robbery (1950)

    Character = Dave Purvis

    "No loose ends, Baby!"

    Year = 1950

  2. Vote!

    Sam Jaffe in The Asphalt Jungle (1950)

    Character = Erwin "Doc" Riedenschneider

    "One way or another, we all work for our vice."

    Year = 1950

  3. Vote!

    Alec Guinness in The Lavender Hill Mob (1951)

    Character = Henry "Dutch" Holland

    "Twenty-five thousand pounds. Enough to keep me for one year in the style to which I was, ah, unaccustomed."

    Year = 1951

  4. Vote!

    Jean Servais in Rififi (1955)

    Character = Tony "le Stéphanois"

    "I liked you. I really liked you, Macaroni. But, you know the rules."

    Year = 1955

  5. Vote!

    Sterling Hayden in The Killing (1956)

    Character = Johnny Clay

    "$2,500 is a lot of dough, Maurice. Part of it's for not asking questions."

    Year = 1956

  6. Vote!

    Roger Duchesne in Bob le Flambeur (1956)

    Character = Robert 'Bob' Montagné

    "I was born here. It was not so dirty then. And I left to conquer the world."

    Year = 1956

  7. Vote!

    Jack Hawkins in The League of Gentlemen (1960)

    Character = Lieutenant-Colonel Norman Hyde

    "Enjoy your meal, gentlemen. You know the old saying, "The rich man eats when you will, a poor man when you can.""

    Year = 1960

  8. Vote!

    Burt Lancaster in The Train (1964)

    Character = Paul Labiche

    "No one's ever hurt. Just dead."

    Year = 1964

  9. Vote!

    Peter O'Toole in How to Steal a Million (1966)

    Character = Simon Dermott

    "I'm a society burglar. I don't expect people to rush about shooting me!"

    Year = 1966

  10. Vote!

    Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

    Character = Thomas Crown

    "Do you play?"

    Year = 1968

  11. Vote!

    Michael Caine in The Italian Job (1969)

    Character = Charlie Croker

    "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!"

    Year = 1969

  12. Vote!

    Alain Delon in Le Cercle Rouge (1970)

    Character = Corey

    Year = 1970

  13. Vote!

    "Getaway, The" Steve McQueen 1972 Solar / Fine Art

    Character = Carter "Doc" McCoy

    "Punch it, Baby!"

    Year = 1972

  14. Vote!

    Paul Newman in The Sting (1973)

    Character = Henry "Shaw" Gondorff

    "Tough luck, Lonnehan. But that's what you get for playing with your head up your ass!"

    Year = 1973

  15. Vote!

    Clint Eastwood in Thunderbolt and Lightfoot (1974)

    Character = John "Thunderbolt" Doherty

    "Are you all right, kid? You don't look too well."

    Year = 1974

  16. Vote!

    Robert Prosky in Thief (1981)

    Character = Leo

    "You get paid what I say. You do what I say, I run you, there is no discussion. I want, you work, until you are burned-out, you are busted, or you're dead... you get it?"

    Year = 1981

  17. Vote!

    Patrick Swayze in Point Break (1991)

    Character = Bohdi

    "If you want the ultimate, you've got to be willing to pay the ultimate price. It's not tragic to die doing what you love."

    Year = 1991

  18. Vote!


    Character = Joe Cabot

    "Now listen up, Mr. Pink. There's two ways we can do this job. My way... or the highway!"

    Year = 1992

  19. Vote!

    Robert De Niro in Heat (1995)

    Character = Neil McCauley

    "Don't let yourself get attached to anything you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you feel the heat around the corner."

    Year = 1995

  20. Vote!

    Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects (1995)

    Character = Verbal Kint?

    "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist."

    Year = 1995

  21. Vote!

    Ian McShane in Sexy Beast (2000)

    Character = Teddy Bass

    "Where there's a will - and there is a fucking will - there's a way - and there is a fucking way."

    Year = 2000

  22. Vote!

    George Clooney in Ocean's Eleven (2001)

    Character = Danny Ocean

    "Because the house always wins. Play long enough, you never change the stakes, the house takes you. Unless, when that perfect hand comes along, you bet big, and then you take the house."

    Year = 2001

  23. Vote!

    Clive Owen in Inside Man (2006)

    Character = Dalton Russell

    "Pay strict attention to what I say because I choose my words carefully and I never repeat myself."

    Year = 2006

  24. Vote!

    Saffron Burrows in The Bank Job (2008)

    Character = Martine Love

    "Imagine if half the villains in London knew about this, he said. And I thought, I know half the villains in London. I grew up with some of them."

    Year = 2008

  25. Vote!

    Gerard Butler in RocknRolla (2008)

    Character = One Two

    "Bob, that's tomorrow night, okay? So tonight is take-off time. And we have got a party planned for you, my man! We got a couple of grams of "hurry up" and four "Jack the Rippers". We've got the Harris twins, probably the most expensive escort girls ever to have escorted; got the night off from the Russians and they have been greased down just for the Bobski!"

    Year = 2008

  26. Vote!

    Ben Affleck in The Town (2010)

    Character = Doug MacRay

    "I need your help. I can't tell you what it is, you can never ask me about it later, and we're gonna hurt some people."

    Year = 2010

  27. Vote!

    Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception (2010)

    Character = Cobb

    "Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it's almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed - fully understood - that sticks; right in there somewhere."

    Year = 2010

  28. Vote!

    Chris Pine in Hell or High Water (2016)

    Character = Toby Howard

    "I've been poor my whole life. So were my parents, their parents before them. It's like a disease passing from generation to generation, becomes a sickness, that's what it is. Infects every person you know, but not my boys. Not anymore. This is theirs now."

    Year = 2016

  29. Vote!

    Kevin Spacey in Baby Driver (2017)

    Character = Doc

    "Now I don't think I need to give you the speech about what would happen if you say no, how I could break your legs and kill everyone you love because you already know that, don't you?"

    Year = 2017

  30. Vote!

    Pablo Schreiber in Den of Thieves (2018)

    Character = Ray Merrimen

    "I ain't cuffin' up"

    Year = 2018

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