From the Vault: The Anderson Tapes (1971) Simon Fitzjohn May 1, 2014 From The Vault 4999 Produced in 1971, The Anderson Tapes is a somewhat quirky offering that fell into place when lead Sean Connery was undergoing his James Bond ‘haggling’ phase. Having ensured he picked up a hefty pay-packet for the gloriously over-the-top Diamonds Are Forever, the Scot was knee-deep in negotiations for the follow-up, Live and Let Die, which as we know, was eventually going to star Roger Moore as 007. So Connery opted to throw his lot in with a host of varying projects, and this opus certainly ratcheted up the ‘cool’ factor. With director Sidney Lumet calling the shots, a cast that includes a career-establishing turn from Christopher Walken (as The Kid) and a soundtrack from Quincy Jones there is a definite edge to it, and the film is positively dripping with a 70s vibe. The tale centres around con Anderson (Connery), who upon his release from prison sets in motion a plan to burgle an entire apartment block of rich socialites as a way of padding out his retirement fund. To aid him in his quest, Anderson ropes in a gang of hoods that include Walken, a camp interior designer (Martin Balsam) and a host of lesser lights. Unbeknownst to Anderson though, his every move is being taped by a host of surveillance teams whose motives are never truly explained. Things build to a climax which is likely to thrill and frustrate in equal measure as the gang set about their work, and the whole thing comes to a very abrupt halt. The Anderson Tapes was one of the first films to adopt the tech-thriller vibe that was to be followed up so successfully in 1974 by The Conversation, starring Gene Hackman. Using CCTV cameras, tape recorders and plenty of shots of computer equipment the film was probably ahead of its time, although naturally it does appear dated when viewed in the modern climate. But it is interesting to note that the whole ‘Big Brother’ scenario that we bemoan in modern life may be actually a bit older than we think. As far as the film is concerned it is quite a frustrating piece to sit through. I really, really wanted to enjoy it and the pieces are certainly in place when you consider the talent involved in the production. But something is slightly off, whether it is the confusing and, in many cases, never explained plot strands, or the annoying ‘bleep’ soundtrack that punctuates every scene involving some technology. There is still plenty to like, and considering the fact that this is a surprisingly less-well known effort is certainly worth checking out. Just don’t go in to it with your expectations too high.