Bank Robbery Movies Based on True Events: The Must-Watch Heist Films of All Time

When it comes to the true crime documentaries and movies, there is always the question of authenticity. There are a handful of directors who nailed these films, and this article focuses on bank robbery movies that are based on real-life crimes. Here are the five best bank robbery movies, you should check out!

If you’re a true crime buff, then you might have watched this list of stunning movies, based on real back robberies.

But if you missed out, you ought to take a look at the list of binge-worthy films! From criminal duos to gang robberies, we have it all right here!

#1. Stander (2003)

What Actually Happened

Captain Andre Stander was a police officer in South Africa who robbed banks. He even did so during his break from work, and return to the scene as an investigating officer.

Stander robbed as many as 30 banks, but in 1980, was caught and sentenced to 75 years in prison. However, he only served 17 years, owing to a prison break he executed.

While partnered with fellow inmate Lee McCall, Stander worked to spring Allen Heyl from the facility in which he was kept. The trio then began robbing banks together.

In a police pursuit, McCall was shot and killed. Heyl escaped to England, Greece, Spain, then back to England where he was eventually captured and extradited to South Africa. Stander lived in the U.S. using falsified documents. Upon being recognized, police were called and, as he tried to escape, Stander was shot and killed.

The Movie

The cast of Stander includes Thomas Jane (Andre Stander), Dexter Fletcher (Lee Mccall) and David O’ Hara (Allen Heyl). In the movie, Stander is shown as a newly married man, and the youngest on the force.

IMDB rates the movie 7.2 which makes it all the more worth while.

#2. The Bank Job (2008)

What Actually Happened

There is a theory that famous Baker Street robbery in 1971 London was covered up by MI5 to protect Princess Margaret and the Royal Family. Sources claim that the robbery was not made public because there were allegedly compromising sexual photographs of Queen Elizabeth’s sister.

Thomas Gray Stephens, Reginald Samuel Tucker, Anthony Gavin, and Benjamin Wolfe were the four men named in the crime. They bought a shop close to the bank, and dug their way underground until they reached the vault from below the building.

The four were heard over radio planning the heist, which is what alerted police that there was a robbery in progress. However, police had trouble locating the right bank, as the security door was still locked.

Once caught, they each received more than five years of prison time after pleading guilty.

The Movie

The heist-thriller starring Jason Statham and Saffron Burrows was semi-fiction, meaning it was only partly based on the true story. The movie does show striking similarities to the true event, highlighting the conspiracy regarding MI5’s involvement.

IMDB rates the movie 7.3, and, as with every Jason Statham movie, is a thrilling watch!

#3. Dog Day Afternoon (1975)


What Actually Happened

Two men, John Wojtowicz, and Salvatore Naturale, prepared themselves to rob the Chase Manhattan bank in Brooklyn. Wojtowicz met his future partner-in-crime at a gay bar, after which they planned their crime.

It was later learned that Wojtowicz wanted the money to get his partner, Ernest Aaron, through a sex reassignment operation, to become Elizabeth Eden.

Naturale, on the hand, allegedly wanted the money to remove his sisters from foster care. His mother was an alcoholic and neglected her three kids.

The duo were arrested after the attempted robbery was botched. Naturale was killed by the FBI, and Wojtowicz was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison. But he only served five years, and was released in 1978.

He sold the rights of his story, which ultimately led to funding Eden’s operation.

The Movie

The legendary Al Pacino and John Cazale play the lead roles in the movie. Though it is inspired by the original crooks, the director made sure to keep the details as close to the real event as possible.

The on-screen duo also face similar fates in the end. IMDB rates the movie 8, and Pacino, as always, is amazing.

#4. The Great St. Louis Bank Robbery (1959)


What Actually Happened

Fred William Bowerman was a mastermind criminal with a weighty past. He was arrested several times for armed robbery, but his most famous attempt was one in Missouri.

Bowerman and his two partners went into a St. Louis Bank in 1953 with weapons in hand, and collected thousands of dollars. But what they didn’t realize is that an employee pressed a silent alarm, and they were surrounded by 100 cops.

A stand-off was underway, so Bowerman put his gun to a hostage’s head, and together, they walked out.

When they stepped outside, Bowerman was shot in the chest. He was then taken to the hospital where he was identified, but succumbed to his wounds.

One of his partners killed himself in the bank and the other was arrested.

The Movie

The cast of this classic movie includes Steve McQueen. IMDB rates the film 5.9, and the story does not get everything exactly right.

#5. Bonnie & Clyde (1967)


What Actually Happened

The notorious and infamous duo are well-known across the globe. Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow fell in love after they met at Clyde’s friend’s house.

Smitten, they began robbing banks across the country during the great depression. They became a gang, and traveled across state borders, robbing people and small stores.

They are ultimately known for robbing a dozen banks, and killing those who confronted them. The duo were known for their cold-blooded approach to the robberies, but were eventually ambushed in 1932, and killed in Louisiana.

They were in a car during the day when they were shot by four Texas officers and two Louisiana officers.

The Movie

The late ’60s were all about flair, and this legendary movie proves it. The film closely follows the real-life robber duo, and stars Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.

The actors not only looked the part, but have immortalized it. The film’s ending of the film is still iconic not just for the standalone film, but in cinematic history. IMDB rates this classic must-watch a 7.9, assuring crime-buffs that the thrill they look for is definitely there!


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