Crime doesn't pay – or at least that's what the guys in charge of the banks want you to think. But these movie bank robbers learned that it's harder than it looks to rob a bank and get away with it. They came close, though. Maybe if you manage to avoid their mistakes, you could get away with it. Come on, what's the worst that could happen?
Gruesome. Boris Karloff is famous for his crimes involving corpses and monsters, but in "Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome" he's a criminal of a more mundane sort: a bank robber. His methods are anything but mundane, however. Using a nerve gas that paralyzes everyone who comes into contact with it for a brief period, he waltzes into the bank, discharges the gas, and he and his gang grab as much as they can carry. He gets caught by Dick Tracy, of course, but it's still one of the all-time great bank heists.
Virgil Starkwell. Woody Allen isn't know for playing criminals at all. And you'll be able to see why if you watch his hilarious performance in "Take The Money And Run," a "mockumentary" about a down-on-his luck guy who turns to bank robberies to make ends meet. In one classic scene, Woody/Virgil is thwarted by poor penmanship as he attempts to rob a bank via handwritten note. "Does that say 'gub'?"
Sonny Wortzik. As played by Al Pacino in "Dog Day Afternoon," Sonny has a relatively admirable reason for robbing a bank. He just wants to pay for his gay lover's sex change operation and flee the country. He had some things going against him from the beginning, though. For one, the bank vault is a lot shorter on cash than he'd planned. Secondly, his partner is a bit dim. It's really no wonder he didn't make a clean getaway in the end.
Bodhi. "Point Break" is arguably Patrick Swayze's greatest performance! In it, Bodhi, a surfer/bank robber/Zen philosopher, unknowingly allows undercover FBI agent Johnny Utah into his gang. That was his biggest mistake, too, since Utah ends up doing everything he can to bring Bodhi down, including jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. How is a bank robber supposed to compete with that?
The Joker. Although it's a bit of a disservice to call Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker as the villain-to-end-all-villains in "The Dark Knight" a bank robber, when you do it as well as the Joker does, the title is usually accepted. And like Gruesome, he has a hell of an opponent to deal with in Batman. If he'd stuck to just robbing banks, he probably would have gotten away with it. But the Joker wanted to send a message. Unfortunately, he flew too close to the sun on wings of gasoline, as they say.