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Film / Tough Guys

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Tough Guys is a 1986 American comedy movie directed by Jeff Kanew and starring Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas.

Two elderly gangsters (Lancaster and Douglas) have spent the last 30 years in prison for robbing the Southern Pacific Railroad's Gold Coast Flyer. After being released from prison, the two try to adjust to the modern age, but old habits die hard, and soon they decide to rob the Flyer on its final run.

The film also stars Charles Durning, Dana Carvey, Eli Wallach, Darlanne Fluegel, and Billy Barty. Also featured as the Gold Coast Flyer is the iconic steam locomotive Southern Pacific 4449 in her film debut, with her engineer Doyle McCormack making a cameo appearance at the throttle.

It was released on October 3, 1986.

Tropes for the film:

  • Ax-Crazy: Leon Little is a hitman who's been waiting thirty years for Harry and Archie to get out of jail so he can kill them, even though his employer has been dead for most of that time. Leon expresses regret that he didn't shoot Richie after knocking him unconscious in a hostage situation. When he's forced into an Enemy Mine situation with Harry and Archie during the train robbery, he suggests wrecking the train for the fun of it.
  • Bearer of Bad News: Richie has to reluctantly tell Harry and Archie a lot of bad news upon their release (such as that Harry has reached mandatory retirement despite his desire to have a job and that the terms of their parole forbid them from hanging out for three years).
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Archie's second boss, a restauranteur, makes a big show of being warm, posh, and welcoming when Richie drops him off. The second Richie leaves, her smile disappears, and she tells Archie she hates having to hire ex-convicts and smugly gives him the most demeaning and humiliating jobs she can find.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Harry and Archie are the last guys to rob a train, back in the 1950s, and are coping with the different world they were released from prison into 30 years later.
  • Flipping the Bird: A prison guard condescendingly tells Harry and Archie that they'll be back in jail within a week and gets a middle finger pointed at him as the two walk away.
  • Gay Bar Reveal: Harry and Archie are let out of prison after decades inside and trying to make contact with people they used to work with. Needless to say, the bar they used to hang out at has changed management. Unlike many examples, on being propositioned and realizing what's going on, Archie simply downs his pint in one and walks out wordlessly.
  • Helping Granny Cross the Street: A Boy Scout tries to help one of the elderly ex-con protagonists across the street. He's not amused, threatens to break the kid's arm, and gets sworn at in response.
  • Inspector Javert: Sergeant Yablonski is determined to send Harry and Archie back to jail despite his supervisor telling him to leave them alone. He shows up to mock Archie at his busboy job and tries to goad Harry into punching him in a bar even when Harry greets him with a compliment on his promotion and offers him a drink. However, he only wants to send them back to prison, and is upset when it looks like they may die in a shootout.
  • Let's Fight Like Gentlemen: Spoofed as the two aging ex-cons find themselves confronted by gangbangers.
    Harry: Now wait a minute, this ain't a fair fight.
    Archie: There's six of you; only two of us.
    Harry: And you've got knives, and we've got nothing.
    Gang leader: But that's how we win.
    Archie: You know when we lived in this neighborhood, there were rules to streetfighting.
    Gang leader: Rules? What kind of rules?
    Archie: Well for one thing, you couldn't do this! [kicks him in the groin] Or this! [pokes him in the eye] Or this! [gives him a right cross with a fistful of quarters] Now does everyone understand the rules?
    [other gangbangers flee]
  • May–December Romance: Archie spends a while dating Skye, a gym manager over thirty years younger than him. The two get along pretty well, but Archie gets too exhausted from constant sex and dancing after a while, and eventually they part ways amicably.
  • Mugging the Monster: A bunch of thugs try to rob the title characters, who show them how it's done old school.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: Elderly ex-con Archie does on a date with much younger Skye. After a night of passion, Archie tells Skye to go ahead to the gym and he'll join her later, as she's worn him out.
    Skye: Archie... are you going to be here when I get back?
    Archie: [beat] No.
    Skye: Why?
    Archie: Skye, you're a sweet kid but... I need to start acting my age.
  • Run for the Border: Archie and Harry escape to Mexico - with a stolen Southern Pacific steam locomotive- just to find out that the track ends a few feet short of crossing the border. Not that they care much. They, too, face a well-armed Mexican border patrol, but they solve that problem their way.
  • Stranger in a Familiar Land: Harry Doyle and Archie Long are released from prison after serving 30 years and they're shocked by how much the world has changed while they were in prison.
  • Unsatisfiable Customer: After getting out of prison, Archie is hired at a yogurt store. His first customer is a Bratty Half-Pint who is constantly changing his mind and giving contradictory instructions. Archie ends up throwing the yogurt in his face, and gets fired.
    Boy: Do you have peanut butter M&M's?
    Archie takes out the M&M's.
    Boy: Hey, what are you doing? I didn't say I WANTED m&m's! I just asked if you HAD them!
    Archie: Yeah, we got 'em.
    Boy: Well, I don't want 'em! Do you have Oreo pieces?
    Archie: You want 'em?
    Boy: (condescendingly) That's why I asked.
  • Work Out Fanservice: Archie visits a gym primarily frequented by women in spandex doing a lot of stretching. Archie finds himself staring at the crotch of one woman doing leg stretching exercises.