The Anderson Tapes is one of Sidney Lumet’s most underrated films, this taut thriller neatly tapped into the surveillance paranoia of the time and offered Sean Connery the chance to stretch himself as he had in Lumet’s The Hill.
John Anderson (Connery) is a master burglar, just released from a ten-year stretch, who moves in with upmarket mistress Ingrid Everleigh (Dyan Cannon). She lives in an exclusive Manhattan apartment block and Anderson plans to rob all the tenants in one night, using his inside knowledge and a gang of experts, ranging from camp antiques dealer Tommy Haskins (Martin Balsam) to The Kid (Christopher Walken in one of his first features).
What he doesn’t realise is that he is under constant surveillance, not by design but by accident, as tapped phones, CCTV cameras and undercover cops from a variety of agencies snoop on the various residents for a variety of reasons. They all intercept snippets of Anderson’s plans but will anyone put them together before he pulls off the heist of a lifetime?
Lumet is one of Hollywood’s most consistent directors never to win the Oscar for best director; that neither Network nor 12 Angry Men, both nominated, won is a mystery. His trademark is to eschew flash in favour of performance, always getting the very best from all his cast but never letting them outshine the story. The Anderson Tapes is a perfect example of his art: Connery’s character drives the plot forward with the action concentrating on the actual heist but Lumet constantly racks up the tension: will Connery get away with it or will the authorities twig in time?
USA / 1971
Director: Sidney Lumet
Writer: Frank Pierson, from Lawrence Sanders’ novel
Cast: Sean Connery, Dyan Cannon, Martin Balsam, Alan King, Ralph Meeker, Christopher Walken