MAGNET contributing writer Jud Cost is sharing some of the wealth of classic films he’s been lucky enough to see over the past 40 years. Trolling the backwaters of cinema, he has worked up a list of more than 500 titles—from the silent era through the ’90s—that you may have missed. A new selection, all currently available on DVD, appears every week.
Palookaville, (1996, 92 minutes)
Three young men park their car at the dark end of the street late at night, and two of them open a concealed gate that leads to the rear of Lettieri Bros. jewelry store. They begin sledge-hammering an entrance hole into the ancient brick wall next to the outside vault with the jewelers’ name painted on it. The brick crumbles easily. They’re inside within 10 minutes.
Once they’ve entered, Russell (Vincent Gallo) slaps his forehead, “I don’t believe this!” he says as he eyeballs cart after cart after cart loaded with yesterday’s apple fritters, strawberry dream cakes and chocolate doughnuts. “We’re in the wrong place,” says Jerry (Adam Trese) already starting to devour a pastry. “I know we’re in the wrong place!” barks Russell, heading for the cash register to salvage whatever cash he can from this bungled caper.
Sirens begin to blare in the distance, and Sid the lookout (William Forsythe) starts jogging toward the getaway car. “Let’s get out of here!” shouts Russell as Jerry stuffs more pastries into his coat. But he’s too late. No sooner does he arrive at the entry hole than a cop’s flashlight is already poking inside the place. Jerry ducks behind a pastry rack as four policemen turn on the lights and look around. “Can you believe this?” says one. “I mean, who robs a bakery?” Another cop reveals that the till has been emptied, as his fellow officers help themselves to a light snack.
Next morning, the trio assembles at a local diner to evaluate last night’s failed mission. “You didn’t come out when I called you,” says Russell to Jerry, explaining why the getaway car left early. “I got caught up,” says Jerry. “He hid behind a mixer,” smiles Sid. “What’s so funny, Jerry? Our life’s on the line and you’re eating pastry?” says Russell. “You think that’s funny?” Jerry reveals: “I’m in there, right, all crouched down and everything’s sticky. And I start thinkin’ about Betty and the kid. What if I get caught? What happens to them?”
Russell spreads out his hands in exasperation, all bony fingers. “Why did this happen? Can the three of us analyze this for a moment?” he asks. Jerry has the answer. “The bakery made an ‘L’ behind the jewelry store. It was a total unknown. Maybe we should forget about theft, just rule it out,” he says, thinking of the big picture. Russell sighs and tries to tone it down a bit. “I’m not talking about a life of crime, just a momentary shift in lifestyles. Suppose you’re on the highway and everybody’s doing 80. Do you drive 55 because it’s the law? No, you go with the flow.” He tosses Jerry and Sid their share, $45 each. “Here, big shot,” he says to Jerry. “Go buy yourself a doughnut.”