In Peter YatesThe Hot Rock (’71), the fourth and final attempt to steal a huge diamond involves the surreptitious hypnotizing of a safe-deposit box security officer for a Park Avenue bank. The hypnotist, a woman called Miasmo, tells the officer to obey any person who says the words “Afghanistan Bananistan.” Co-conspirator Robert Redford, having rented his own safe-deposit box in the same bank, enters the vault and says the words. His expression as he waits to see if the hypnosis scheme has worked is, in my humble view, priceless. He does it just right.

Posted on 12.5.14: Escapism of the calibre of Peter YatesThe Hot Rock (i.e., smart, low-key, character-driven humor delivered by name-brand actors) doesn’t happen very much these days. That aside, this mostly delicious scene has a huge flaw. When “Chicken” (i.e., Ron Leibman in disguise) throws Paul Sand off the platform and into the elevator shaft, we should of course hear an impact sound. This absence almost kills the gag. Why Yates, a first-rate craftsman who had directed Bullitt three years earlier and would pilot The Friends of Eddie Coyle two years hence, would overlook something this basic and obvious is beyond me.

There’s something close to perfect about the way Robert Redford mumbles “my heart wouldn’t be in it.” It’s an honest statement of principles. Screenwriter William Goldman initially wrote this line for a discarded scene from Butch Casssidy and the Sundance Kid.