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Film / Vabank

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1934, Warsaw. Henryk Kwinto, the master safecracker, Just Got Out of Jail. He steadfastly refuses his old pals propositions for getting back into business - fully intending to clean up his act and live as a musician from now on. The past is in the past. Except, of course, for his non-criminal best friend Tadeusz, whom Kwinto goes to visit right after getting out.

And learns that Tadeusz was Driven to Suicide by financial problems, stemming from having been conned out of all of his money by Kramer's less-than-honest bank. And Kramer, incidentally, is the guy who got Kwinto into jail in the first place...

The debut of Juliusz Machulski (who went on to make Sex Mission and Kiler), it's a cool, suave, mind-screwy in-universe and out (really, Shell Game of a movie - watch it closely! or leave confused) heist movie cum Comedy. A sequel was also made, but we're not concerned with it right now.

Some tropes you'll find in it. If you look closely:

  • Air-Vent Passageway: The air ducts are brick, though, and Moks (or Nuta? - they're wearing gasmasks for protection from whatever the vents are venting) still makes some noise.
  • The Alibi: Carefully staged by the crew, complete with putting the stolen money in the mark's house.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: Followed by a disbelieving My God, You Are Serious!:
    Komisarz Przygoda: Do you always keep your money in the laundry basket?
    Kramer: Of course I do... and my marmelade and teeth powder in the sock drawer, don't you?
  • Bank Robbery: Aside from the main plot, Moks and Nuta are introduced when they rob a jewellery store.
  • Bad Guy Bar: A plain, seedy place where you go to hire yourself a Professional Killer.
  • Bedroom Adultery Scene: Downplayed. After leaving prison, Kwinto walks back home, only to find his wife there serving dinner to another man. That man is one of the detectives that put Kwinto behind the barsnote . However, Kwinto himself remains completely stoic throughout this and finding out he's been cuckolded, he simply takes the secret stache of money he kept in a chair and walks out without a single word.
  • Bookends: "You've mistaken me for someone else. I'm a musician."
  • Brandishment Bluff: Moks and Nuta's jeweller-robbing shtick - they show the salesman a gun muffler and rhetorically ask if they should mount it on a gun. They try the trick on Kwinto, who shows them his trumpet muzzle and coldly explains he's a musician. So they leave him be.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: Seems almost like a standard method of payment.
  • The Caper / The Con: The Plan being to rob Kramer and then frame him for it.
  • Caper Crew:
    • The Mastermind/The Burglar/The Legendary Thief: Kwinto, whose idea this was in the first place,
    • The Partner In Crime/The Gadget Guy: Dane, who makes plans and works out how to disable the alarm system,
    • The Distraction/The Roper: Natalie, who keeps Kramer safely out of the way and provides him with the "alibi",
    • The Drivers/The New Kids: Moks and Nuta, described by Dane as "zealous shoplifters". Their job is tailing Kramer during the preparation phase, driving, fetching and carrying.
  • Caper Rationalization: It's Personal.
    Kwinto: Because I refuse to believe in Tadeusz's suicide.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: All the various, apparently random scenes and characters that show up during first two acts aren't there just for a filler.
  • Con Man: Kramer cons people out of their life savings, using their reluctance to share those savings with the state.
    Kramer: Besides, it's a shade indecent of you to try and scam the tax office.
  • Coolest Club Ever: Not the Bad Guy Bar, but the one where Kwinto's (musical) band plays is cool as anything.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Kramer and his slick, slimy secretary, Stawski.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Kwinto and every single person employed by the police. Kramer is more of a Nervous Snarker, while Dane snarks with barely concealed glee.
  • Dead Man Writing: Blink and you miss it. Tadeusz has left a note in Kwinto's trumpet. The shot is infamous for its duration - most people are going to be at best in the middle of the note when cut happens.
  • Exact Words: Or perhaps Mathematician's Answer. When asked if he's duped a somewhat greedy man into, more or less, giving him all his money:
    Stawski: Sir, I do nothing without your knowledge.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Kramer, upon learning of his right hand guy having had Tadeusz murdered, attempts to buy Kwinto off with a Briefcase Full of Money. This works about as well as you would expect.
  • Frameup: Of the guilty party, in a way.
  • Gaslighting: Natalie gives Kramer a wonderful, too good to be true alibi... which the police see right through. Especially that her apartament is not there anymore.
  • Gendered Insult: Played for Laughs through and through when the theatre director tries one to dare an actor into a somewhat dangerous stunt... only for the leading lady to take offence and start complaining.
  • Hard-Work Montage: Dane trying out various shapes for the alarm-disabling thingy, although Nuta's part consists mostly of looking bored while the old hand is thinking, sweating, cutting tin sheet and yelling abuse.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Natalie's necklace is fastened with the metal thingy that disables the security system in the bank. So, getting Kramer's fingerprints on it is a simple enough affair....
  • Inspector Javert: Both Karelicki and Przygoda are hard-working, long-suffering, snarky, by-the-book detectives who really have the society's best interests on their minds and persecute nobody unjustly. Kwinto, however, is a default suspect as a freshly out of jail confirmed crook.
  • It's Probably Nothing: One of the guards is really more interested in their chess game than he is in his job.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Natalie's apartament "mysteriously" vanishes overnight...
  • Just Got Out of Jail: The film opens with Kwinto walking out of it.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: The crew takes care to refund the people Kramer's stolen from, or at least Tadeusz's widow.
  • Mind Screw: Shell Game - the movie. Half the stuff is there purely as distraction - for us or for Kramer. Usually both.
  • Never Suicide: Tadeusz was actually pushed out of this window. Kwinto is the only one to believe that, though.
  • One Last Job: Kwinto wasn't interested, until he got an incentive...
  • Orgy of Evidence: Again, carefully planted.
  • Professional Killer: Hired to kill Kwinto and ultimately outclassed pretty hard.
  • Pun-Based Title: On va banque.
  • Retired Outlaw: Kwinto, Kramer (ostensibly), Dane.
  • The Roaring '20s: Technically, The Great Depression, since the movie is set in 1934, but doesn't really feel like it.
  • Running Gag: Dane buys a new show business establishment (and sells his old one) every two years. The boys attempt to find him by tracking the classifieds in the newspaper, but Kwinto, who knows all his friend's weaknesses, goes to meet him at the soccer match instead (Dane never misses a game). Later on, it turns out the photoplasticon for sale really does belong to Dane, and the crew's planning sessions take place there.
  • Screaming Woman: The circus girl screams quite loudly at the sight of Tadeusz falling out his window.
  • Searching the Stalls: The group briefly hides in a bathroom upstairs of the bank. The one guard who takes his job seriously and searches the stalls is outnumbered.
  • The Stoic: Kwinto barely speaks and never, ever, under any circumstances, loses his cool - including random police arrest and having to fight his life against an assassin.
  • The Stool Pigeon: Kramer used to be one of the Betrayer mould, which is how Kwinto ended up in jail. So, little love lost between these two.
  • Trigger-Happy: Moks is a bit too... gleeful at the thought of shooting people.
  • Sword Cane: The ultimate tool for Assassin Outclassin'.
  • Take Me Out At The Ballgame: One of the attempts to kill Kwinto.
  • Unreadably Fast Text: One of the most infamous examples in Polish cinematography, and unintentionally so. The note left by Tadeusz inside the trumpet is shown too briefly to read it, cutting to next shot, and it's really plot-relevant. Unless you are viewing it on home media and can pause, there is just no way to read the whole thing.
  • Will Talk for a Price:
    Usher: Must 'ave been ill back then.
    Moks: (handing him a bill) How about now?
    Usher: Now I'm fine.
  • World of Snark: The older someone is, the snarkier they get.
  • You Just Ruined the Shot: A seemingly dramatic, if out of the blue scene turns out to be a rehearsal in the formerly-owned-by-Dane theater when the actors start complaining about prop guns and changing rooms - Moks and Nuta are almost as confused as we are.