Film / The Getaway

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The Getaway is a 1972 crime drama film directed by Sam Peckinpah, starring Steve McQueen and Ali MacGraw. It was based on the novel of the same name by Jim Thompson. Walter Hill wrote the screenplay.

Gordon "Doc" McCoy is denied parole after serving four years of a ten-year sentence for armed robbery. Having had enough of jail, he gets his wife Carol to approach Benyon, a crooked politician. Carol secures Doc's release in a way that Doc later does not approve of at all. Newly freed Doc is given a job by Benyon: rob a certain small-town bank. Doc, Carol, a thug of Benyon's named Rudy, and a Red Shirt thug pull off the bank robbery, but not without spilling some blood. As is usual with bank robberies in the movies, the criminals start turning on each other, and Doc and Carol wind up having to flee from Benyon's goons and the law both.

A remake, directed by Roger Donaldson and starring Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger, was released in 1994.

Not to be confused with the third-person video game, or the pinball table The Getaway: High Speed II, as well as the 2013 film of the same name.


Tropes seen in both films:

  • Absolute Cleavage: Carol wears a blouse open to the navel—it doesn't even have any buttons—to get Benyon to get Doc out of jail.
  • Action Girl: Carol, who helps with the robbery and who isn't afraid to pick up a gun and start shooting during the climactic firefight.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the novel, Doc kills the guard, while in the movie it's Frank that kills the guard. And in the novel, Doc also kills Fran, while Fran survives the movie.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Fran falls for Rudy almost instantly, finding him much more sexy and exciting that her milquetoast veterinarian husband.
    • Possibly because of Lima Syndrome (on the part of Rudy, only towards Fran) and Stockholm Syndrome (on the part of Fran, towards Rudy), making this A Match Made in Stockholm.
    • To a lesser extent with Doc and Carol. Although the two are genuinely in love and Happily Married, the bottom line is, Doc is a bank robber and this is probably a huge part of his appeal to Carol.
  • Anti-Hero: Not only is Doc a bank robber, he hits his wife. About the only good thing that can be said of him is that unlike just about every other character in the movie, including Carol, he doesn't kill unless he has to.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Doc goes to Benyon his share of the money. As they talk, Benyon tells him about his and Carol's liaison and insinuates that he has been set up for an ambush. All the while, we see Carol walking into the room, gun drawn. . .but she shoots Benyon, not Doc. Though there is a moment where they aim at each other, frozen in shock and horror.
  • Bank Robbery: A crooked politician hires Doc to rob a bank.
  • Beta Couple: Fran and Rudy, who hook up while Rudy is chasing after Doc and Carol.
  • Bleed 'em and Weep: Carol is shell-shocked after she kills Beynon.
  • The Cameo: You can't see him, but that's James Garner driving the orange VW that Doc and Carol zoom past while fleeing the bank robbery.
  • Closest Thing We Got: The injured Rudy drives to a veterinarian's house for help.
  • Cool Guns: Doc's semi-automatic handgun is a Colt M1911A1.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Carol in both versions.
  • Driven to Suicide: Poor Hal. Being tied up and Forced to Watch your wife having vigorous sex with a criminal will do that to a guy.
  • Dumb Blonde: Fran in the original, and how.
  • Happily Ever Before: The film omits the final chapter of the book.
  • Imagine Spot: Doc and Carol visit a park after he gets out of prison and he imagines them jumping into the lake for a swim.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After hanging all over and flirting with Rudy, sleeping with him right in front of her husband, then not having the slightest bit of remorse after he kills himself, Fran is left alone and devastated—and stranded in a strange town miles from home when Rudy himself is killed.
  • No Honor Among Thieves: Rudy kills Frank, which might be understandable as Frank had screwed up the plan and shot the guard. Then he tries to kill Doc and take all the money, but Doc is a quicker draw and shoots Rudy. Then it turns out that Benyon was going to have Carol kill Doc—but Carol shoots Benyon instead.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Doc and Carol, driving off down a dusty Mexican road, having escaped the law and bought the truck from the cowboy for $30,000.
  • Outlaw Couple: Doc and Carol.
  • Performance Anxiety: Doc and Carol are understandably nervous about making love after he gets out of prison.
  • Pervy Patdown: Benyon's henchman is clearly enjoying frisking Carol. Plus, she's in a skimpy, skintight dress, so it's already obvious that she's not carrying a weapon.
  • Phallic Weapon: Fran is not at all subtle when she tells Rudy that he doesn't need to point a gun at her, she'll do anything he wants, while she fondles the barrel of said weapon.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Thompson's novel included a surrealistic, controversial ending in which Doc and Carol end up in a weird hotel that seems to actually be Hell. The movie got rid of that ending for a more conventional one in which Doc and Carol actually do get away.
  • Prisoner's Work: Doc works a license plate machine.
  • Run for the Border: Amazingly, unlike how this usually turns out in crime dramas, Doc and Carol make it, given a lift out of a jam and across the border by a genial cowboy.
  • Scarpia Ultimatum: This happens in the remake. Doc had been stuck in a Mexican jail (NOT nice) for a while, and suddenly got released. However, now a crooked businessman wants him to pull One Last Job, and the plot starts rolling... anyway, towards the end, the businessman betrays them (of course) and in the process reveals that Carol actually slept with him in order to get her hubby out of prison. He's not happy, but it does work out in the end... which makes it a rare example where it actually went through — albeit 'offscreen.'
  • Screaming Woman: It becomes plain that Fran is over her head during the climactic shootout, as Rudy, Doc & Carol, and Benyon's goons are shooting up both a hotel and each other. Doc punches her to shut her up, while in the remake, it's Carol who does this.
  • Setting Update: The novel was set in the 1940s, while both films are set in their respective contemporary times.
  • Sex for Services: How Carol got Beynon to spring Doc from prison. Given the Absolute Cleavage blouse she wore to the meeting, this seems to have been her plan all along, rather than Scarpia Ultimatum.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Doc's weapon of choice. When he sees that some cops have shown up, he hurriedly buys a shotgun from a conveniently nearby gun store, then shoots up the cop car and escapes.
  • Shower of Love: In the remake, the McCoys make their reconciliation official by having one of these that eventually moves to its proper location—a bed.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Fran dies in the novel.
  • Stealing from the Till: Why Benyon wanted Doc to rob that particular bank, he'd been cooking his books. Doc figures this out around the time that the news reports $750,000 stolen when he only has $500,000 in his bag.
  • Stockholm Syndrome: A possible explanation for the behaviour of Fran... though hardly enough to excuse her behaviour: she has sex with Rudy, the man who kidnapped her and his husband while the latter is locked in the adiacent bathroom and forced to listen, which drives him to commit suicide.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Some fanservice from Carol. Doc's nervous about their first time in four years.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Doc slaps Carol not once, but several times, after finding out that she had sex with Benyon to get Doc out of jail.
    • He also hits Fran to shut her up in the original.

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