The Old Man and the Gun

Front Row at the Movies by Shirrel Rhoades

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You sometimes hear the term “gentleman bandit.” Forrest Silva “Woody” Tucker was the real deal.

First imprisoned at age 15, Tucker was a bank robber who spent the rest of his life in and out of jail. He was known for his polite robberies, often impressing his victims with a friendly smile and non-threatening approach. Often arrested, he was also known for his frequent prison breaks.

Tucker’s story is told in a new film called “The Old Man and the Gun.” It introduces us to Forrest Tucker in his later years (hence the title) when the old crook meets a woman named Jewel. As you can imagine, she’s taken aback when she asks him what he does for a living and he tells her.

Here is a guy that robbed 17 banks, got caught 17 times, went to prison 17 times, and escaped 17 times. Can a career criminal such as this earn our admiration and approbation in a movie?

Yes … if he’s played by Robert Redford.

Aside from the film’s genteel look at a likeable bank robber, the reason you want to see this true story is the casting.

Robert Redford (“The Horse Whisperer,” “The Natural”) takes on the mantle of Forrest Tucker, his leathery face reminding us that his youthful movie career is behind him. The 82-year-old Oscar winner has announced his intent to retire from acting … with this being his last performance!

Sissy Spacek (“Coal Miner’s Daughter,” “In the Bedroom”) plays Jewel, the romantic interest in this crime comedy. Also an Academy Award-winner, Spacek anchors the story, providing us with an empathetic view of this benign criminal.

Oscar-winner Casey Affleck (“Manchester by the Sea”) is a lawman on the bank robber’s trail, but seemingly hesitant to catch him.

Add a stellar supporting cast that includes Danny Glover (“Lethal Weapon”), Elizabeth Moss (“The Handmaid’s Tale”), John David Washington (“BlacKkKlansman”), Tom Waits (“Down by Law”), and Keith Carradine (“Nashville”).

“The Old Man and the Gun” is holding us up this week at Tropic Cinema.

This film is a love letter to Robert Redford. Not so much the real-life Redford, a hardnosed environmentalist, founder of the Sundance Film Festival, and Oscar-winning director, but the Robert Redford that women (and men) fell in love with in movies like “The Sting,” “The Great Gatsby,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “All the President’s Men,” and “Barefoot in the Park.”

Add “The Old Man and the Gun” to that list.

Redford says of this movie, “It’s very upbeat. We’re living in dark times. These are really dark times we’re surrounded by, and I thought it would be nice to do something upbeat, something positive that might put a smile on your face.”

Although he now appears to be waffling on his decision to retire (“I should just slip quietly away from acting, but I shouldn’t be talking about it …”), he steps off the stage with a smile on his face.

Email Shirrel: srhoades@aol.com

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