Blu-Ray Review – The Anderson Tapes

Directed by Sidney Lumet, The Anderson Tapes is a heist film dealing with surveillance long before that became a hot topic. The fact that it’s pre-Watergate is even more interesting.

The film is one of several collaborations between Lumet and Sean Connery. It follows Connery’s character, Duke Anderson, when he gets out of prison and assembles a team, which includes a young Christopher Walken, to rob a high-end apartment building. He gets funding from a Mafia boss who owes him a favour, but is unaware that he is being watched from the get-go by private detectives. The FBI and other agencies are also mounting surveillance, but none of them are competent enough to stop the robbery.

Sean Connery gives a typical Connery performance. It feels like he’s going to attempt an accent at first, but—no. He’s good in the role, but then his best work as an actor was with Lumet. They would do The Offence shortly after this film, which was his best role. Walken, who had already done quite a bit of TV and stage work plus an independent film part in the 60s, puts in a good performance in his first major film and a gets “Introducing” credit here. The supporting cast also includes Ralph Meeker as the police captain. He was on his way out at that time, but as always puts in an interesting performance.

In almost every other scene Connery ends up in some woman’s bed—it was probably in his contract. It’s very much a film of its time, so current viewers will spot plenty of issues. The best approach is just to enjoy it for what it is. The ending is rather strange, but interesting (apparently there was a change from the original script forced through by Columbia to ensure that they could sell TV rights). It has a good Quincy Jones funk-jazz score that is very typical of films from that period.

There aren’t many special features on the disc. They include a cut-down Super-8 version that gives you a look at what home viewers would have seen in the era before VHS, a commentary by Glenn Kenny, a trailer, and a booklet on the film with a new essay and some archival stuff.

★★★★

Ian Schultz

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