The Anderson Tapes (1971)

andersonCan’t say I really ‘got’ this film at all. I quickly figured out its a crime thriller whose central conceit was surveillance and how intrusion of privacy using then-cutting edge technology was something to get worried about back then, with CCTV cameras and tapping phones etc- how lucky we now live in more enlightened and private times, ho, ho (did my webcam just blink at me?).

Unfortunately I kept on waiting for a twist that never came. Sean Connery’s John “Duke” Anderson, a safe-cracker, is released after ten years in prison and almost immediately decides to burgle the entire luxury building in which his girlfriend Ingrid (Dyan Cannon) lives. He doesn’t know, however, that he is subject to surveillance by law authorities who  soon get wise to his (apparently doomed) scheme. We follow Anderson getting financing and a team together and the authorities recording his actions, but… I don’t know. I expected Anderson to pull a bait-and-switch in a twist, to reveal he’s realised he was being spied upon and that he was playing to the cameras/audio equipment, that it was all a subterfuge on his part and his team actually hit a bank while the cops wait at the apartment building in vain. Maybe I would have enjoyed the film more had I not been expecting any twist.

Instead, the mysterious teams doing the surveillance don’t actually act upon the intelligence they are marshalling in order to scupper Anderson’s plans- instead the cops are put onto the burglary while it is in progress via a call from the public, and Anderson gets foiled by them instead. Maybe I’m missing something, but the actual ‘Anderson Tapes’ do nothing to stop the burglary and prove something of a red herring. Maybe the fact that the surveillance teams were willing to ignore the burglary plans in order to go after the ‘bigger fish’ that they are tracking (presumably the mobsters who are financing Andersons operation) was some kind of message about ‘greater evil’ and the duplicity of the law offices.

Anyway, I was glad to have finally caught up with the film- amazed to see it featured the first film role of Christopher Walken, no less, who looks impossibly young here, as if he’s hardly started shaving. He actually looks cute- its like some kind of incredible visual effect that current CGI is unable to achieve..