Michael Mann’s debut feature unveiled his vision fully realized for theatergoers. A man isolated by circumstances (James Caan in perhaps his finest performance as the title criminal) relies on his wits, his expertise, and his code to navigate a treacherous urban world (underworld Chicago, convincing as itself). The big heist setpieces drop jaws, but what elevates the director and star’s work
are the emotional stakes. In Tuesday Weld’s love interest and Willie Nelson’s avuncular mentor, Caan’s character has something to lose. -LG

1981 Michael Mann. 1.85:1 Color DCP 123 min.