15 Best Heist Movies Where The Thieves Get Away With The Cash

We rank the 15 greatest heist movies in cinema history that end with the thieves getting away with the cash.

By Sean Thiessen | Updated

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Everyone has dreamed of pulling off a great heist. Most people would never actually do it. For those rare few who try, there is almost certainly a great story to come out of it. Filmmakers have known that for years, and that’s why we’ve compiled this list of the greatest heist movies where the heist actually works – even if the aftermath doesn’t.

1. Heat (1995)

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Topping the list is one of the most influential heist movies and crime films ever made. Writer and director Michael Mann had been feeling Heat since the 1970s, when he first wrote the script as a TV pilot. Based on a real relationship between a Chicago police officer and a high-end criminal, the pilot became a 1989 TV movie.

Mann revisited the story and recruited a team of specialists to pull off this gun-blazing hit. The film marked the first onscreen team up for Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro, who were supported by Val Kilmer, Ashley Judd, Jon Voight, Amy Brenneman, and Tom Sizemore.

Christopher Nolan cited Heat as an inspiration for 2008’s The Dark Knight.

2. The Sting (1973)


Speaking of iconic acting duos, The Sting features Robert Redford and Paul Newman teaming up as Depression Era grifters out to con a big-time mob boss. The pair were based on brothers, Fred and Charley Gondorff, whose escapades were immortalized in David Maurer’s book The Big Con: The Story of the Confidence Men.

This Best Picture winner cleaned up at the Oscars, delivering equal numbers of thrills and laughs. It was also a career resurrection for Paul Newman, whose films had been struggling at the box office.

The Sting teams the actors once again with director George Roy Hill, the man behind Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

3. Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

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Fast forward in time to 2001, where watching Hollywood’s most handsome men pull off stylish cons proves to be an enduring formula. A remake of the 1960 film starring Frank Sinatra, this version puts George Clooney at the helm as Danny Ocean, a ring leader master thief who assembles a team to rip off three Las Vegas casinos – at the same time.

Directed by the interminably cheeky Steven Soderbergh, Ocean’s Eleven scored big with critics and audiences. The film pulled off a box office heist of its own to the tune of more than $450 million worldwide.

It’s one twist, turn, and charming wisecrack after another as Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Bernie Mac, Casey Affleck, Don Cheadle, Scott Caan, Julia Roberts, and more deliver the goods in this sleek, sexy caper.

4. Rififi (1955)


Stealing valuable jewels isn’t just an American thing. This classic French heist movie from blacklisted American director Jules Dassin is the crown jewel of jewelry thefts. This heist is so good, it inspired generations of imitators.

Working with a low budget, a crew working for pennies, and no movie stars, Dassin made this story about an aging gangster and his crew one of the most compelling caper films of all time. He went on to win Best Director at the Cannes Film Festival.

The film was based on a book that bears the same title, Rafifi, a French slang word indicating the violent conflicts of brash Parisian thugs.

5. The Killing (1956)


The heist film that is perhaps the most stolen from, The Killing is one of Stanley Kubrick’s earliest works. This hard-boiled heist movie caper departs from the typical settings like banks, casinos, and jewelry stores and instead takes its criminals to the horse racetrack.

Johnny Clay (which is about as film-noir a name as one can have) assembles a team to pull off the racetrack robbery, but the operation is bad from the start. The crew is riddled by bullets and double-crosses that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

And in a world of short attention spans, its one-hour and 24-minute runtime isn’t too bad, either.

6. Inside Man (2006)


Ready for the perfect bank robbery? From director Spike Lee, Inside Man pits a police detective, played by Denzel Washington, against a bank-robbing Clive Owen, whose perfect robbery includes a high-stakes hostage situation that is far more than meets the eye.

Jodie Foster joins the all-star cast to complicate matters as a powerful broker whose interest in the situation reveals stakes higher than anyone could have known.

This stylistic time capsule of the 2000s is a tense and winding modern heist movie classic. Strong direction and performances elevated Inside Man to over $180 million worldwide and one of the best openings of Washington’s career.

7. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)

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Sometimes things don’t go according to plan. For Sonny and Sal, that may be the understatement of a lifetime. Played by Al Pacino and John Cazale, Sonny, and Sal have a simple plan for their bank job. But when there is no money in the vault, and the police quickly arrive, they only have one option – take the bank patrons hostage.

Based on a true story, the heist movie tells the tale of a robbery gone bad and the long, long hours that ensued. Directed by Sydney Lumet, Dog Day Afternoon is one of the most notable films ever made, and as long as you are watching the movie and not in it, it is not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

8. The Italian Job (1969)


Mark Wahlberg is great, but nobody does it like Michael Caine. Thanks to its wit, charm, and iconic moments, this heist movie comedy caper has endured as a hallmark of British cinema. It involves Michael Caine as Charlie Croker, a crook released from prison who goes straight back to his wild antics.

Croker forms a team to steal gold being transported in an armored truck through the streets of Turin, Italy. The complex job is a tough caper to crack, but the film’s debonair comedy, anchored by Caine, makes for one enjoyable Mini Cooper ride. The film later inspired a 2003 American remake, but sometimes you just can’t beat the original.

9. The Asphalt Jungle (1950)


Marking one of the earliest appearances of Marilyn Monroe, The Asphalt Jungle is a heist movie film-noir classic. It follows a jewelry thief, played by Sterling Hayden, who pulls off a job shortly after being released from prison.

All goes well with the robbery, but betrayals compromise Hayden’s success. The police are on the case, and without anyone to truly trust, the pressure cooker heats up for everyone involved in the job.

Directed by the legendary John Huston, this rousing Academy Award nominee is an oldie but goodie, chronicling the slow unraveling of life after a seemingly successful caper.

10. Sexy Beast (2000)


One of the first heist films of the new millennium features gangster Don Logan, for whom “No” is not an option. The directorial debut from Jonathan Glazer, Sexy Beast stars Ben Kingsley as Don Logan, a violent criminal who forces Gal, played by Ray Winstone, out of retirement for one last job.

Gal reluctantly returns to his role as a safecracker, but the job goes sideways, causing a dark unraveling for Gal. Ian McShane joins the cast in this tense thriller that has been heralded as one of the greatest British films.

The film grossed only $10 million, but with a budget of $4 million, it was a success. Kingsley earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance in the film.

11. The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)


Starring one of Hollywood’s greatest leading men in Steve McQueen, The Thomas Crown Affair pits him against one of the greatest leading women of all time, with Faye Dunaway as a determined insurance investigator determined to figure out the perfect crime. The result is a heist film that focuses on what comes after the getaway, which in this case is a cat-and-mouse game of mutual attraction between the two.

Though critics knocked it for a weak plot, the audience loved the stunning landscapes and sizzling sex appeal between McQueen and Dunaway. Remade decades later, starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo, Faye Dunaway returned as Thomas Crown’s psychiatrist. Both versions prove that The Thomas Crown Affair is the sexiest heist movie ever filmed.

12. The Bank Job (2008)


Based on a true story, The Bank Job pulls a page out of British history to make a realistic heist movie. In order to avoid prison after being caught smuggling drugs, a woman, played by Saffron Burrows, makes a deal with British intelligence to steal sensitive photos of Princess Margaret from a safety deposit box in a Baker Street bank.

She recruits the help of Jason Statham to pull off the job, but when Statham realizes what he is really stealing, he finds himself in over his head.

The actual events the film loosely depicts took place in 1971 but were allegedly kept under wraps. The film’s producers purported The Bank Job to be the unsealing of a dark truth in British history.

13. Logan Lucky (2017)

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Steven Soderbergh came out of retirement to direct one of the more recent heist movies, Logan Lucky. How about its cast if that isn’t enough to sell you on it? The film stars Channing Tatum and Adam Driver as the Logan brothers, two Southerners down on their luck. In order to get the money that he needs to get shared custody of his daughter, Tatum forms a plan.

The Logans set out to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway during a race. To do that, they need the help of Joe Bang, a zany, bleach-blonde criminal played by Daniel Craig.

Soderbergh released Logan Lucky independently through his own company, with some help from Bleecker Street. The film did not deliver loads of cash at the box office, but it made enough for Soderbergh to deem his passion project successful. 

14. To Catch a Thief (1955)


This Alfred Hitchcock heist movie classic brings together the star duo of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly for a winding romp through the French Riviera. The film stars Grant as a reformed jewel thief, known as “The Cat,” who is enlisted to catch a criminal copycatting Grant’s thievery.

Grant’s character struggles to prove his innocence to the police and the people closest to him. In order to clear his name and truly leave his past persona behind, Grant must catch a thief.

This romantic crime mystery lacks the sharp, suspenseful edge of the work Hitchcock is best known for, but the beautiful film oozes with charisma thanks to performances from two of Hollywood’s greatest movie stars.

15. A Fish Called Wanda (1988)


This classic comedy caper is a gem of the 80s. Starring Jamie Lee Curtis, John Cleese, and Kevin Kline, the film begins with a heist gone right, then very, very wrong. A gang leader hides a stash of diamonds, and in order to get them back, Curtis gets close to a lawyer who could help them. What follows is a laundry list of betrayal, jealous rage, and seductive antics that make A Fish Called Wanda quite the catch.

The heist movie infamously caused a man named Ole Bentzen to “die of laughter” in the theater after suffering heart fibrillation suspected to have been brought on by his constant laughing. 

This hit went on to three Academy Award nominations and status as a film classic.