• I was listening to one of those radio quiz shows this weekend and a woman lost based on that closing scene. They asked her who, aside from Clooney, walked away from the fountain, and she said Julia Roberts. She could have named any of the other guys but that’s who she picked. I thought it was an adorable guess.

    • That’s even more impressive, ‘cuz Clooney wasn’t there either 🤔

  • Funny thing: I much prefer the remake to the long, long, long original. But I can’t remember a thing about the remake, and the sad ending of the original has stuck with me for years.

    I love a good caper film/novel. But after reading pretty much every Dortmunder novel by Donald Westlake and half of the Parker novels by Westlake’s alter ego Richard Stark (not strictly capers because a lot of the time there is nothing remotely funny going on), both the original and the remake seem too polished, too neat. I’m reminded of Leonard Snart’s four rules to a robbery: “Make the plan. Execute the plan. Expect the plan to go off the rails. Throw away the plan.” Both versions of Danny Ocean forget the third rule. Westlake’s protagonists live by it.

    • Even in the original, the heist itself (as I remember) goes off perfectly; it’s only afterwards that things go south. That’s just not as interesting on any level as things going wrong and the players having to improvise their way around.

      • Miller

        The Parker books play with this often — the heist will go off flawlessly but complications (betrayal, previous deals, utter randos) will cause problems well beyond the in and out of getting the loot. But those books are steeped in crime as a lifestyle in a way that an Ocean’s never could be (Heat is more of an analogue), things will always go wrong in some ways because going wrong is what you are doing. The Man With The Getaway Face is generally viewed as a weaker entry in the series but I love it for setting up the series’ world* so brutally — Parker plans a heist with some partners, two partners look to cut and run, Parker and his other partner smoke this immediately and without even thinking about it figure out a way to ambush the betrayers and then do so, it’s improvisation on an instinctual level like a jazz combo rhythm section. And THEN the real complication comes in!

        *while technically it is the second book, the first was written as a one-off and hastily re-edited when the editor wanted a series, you can see the seam. Getaway is the first written with a larger world in mind and it shows.

    • Miller

      What’s The Worst That Could Happen? is the closest Westlake gets to Ocean’s 11, casino heist and all, but that is set into motion by a plan going humiliatingly awry and all subsequent plans succeeding in every possible way except the petty one that matters to the protagonist. Westlake was the best. And yeah, I only watched one season of the Flash but was more than ready to throw everyone overboard for a Captain Cold show, Snart has clearly read a few Parker books himself.

    • Son of Griff

      I know that it’s widely dismissed in most circles, but OCEANS 12 (which is now my go to put-something-on-when- I’m-tired-so-I-can-go-to-sleep flick really follows what happens when plans get totally upended.

  • Miller

    “Crews are how people learn a trade”

    I had lunch today with the person who has my old job, in an organization that is incompetently hemorrhaging itself to death (and I mean incompetent in the decisions leading to the act and the act itself, the people at the top are too stupid to bleed properly). The person is the same age as I was when I started in the field, yet in a position of supervision and delegation and knowledge it took me close to a decade to reach. I had time and space and most importantly veterans to learn from and contemporaries to measure myself against before I reached that old job, this person has nothing and while they’re doing the best they can, are consequently able to do only so much. The disdain for craft and craft’s ability to perpetuate itself — there is no more clear indication of the company’s lack of vision — is appalling and toxic. So anyway, this was a lovely piece on why all that matters, and it’s nice to read that some people continue to make it matter.

    • The Ploughman

      It’s not too late, I suppose, but one of my regrets is my younger self didn’t seek out more mentors. I was so eager to become the master, I didn’t recognize the benefit in being the apprentice (this worked out poorly for someone in another movie, I think). To the discredit of my youth and of the professional world I entered, this put me in positions I was both qualified for and yet unready to handle at the same time. A better market and environment would have had somebody to smack me into place a little bit until I was ready. I’ve made it work, but sometimes I feel like a bone that’s grown improperly – technically in the right position, but with more painful and less effectiveness than there could have been.

      • Miller

        I wound up wasting some good opportunities in college because of that eagerness. I did learn a lot on my own/with other students but having that more experienced perspective is incredibly valuable, your mistakes can be guided.

    • For about a year and a half, I worked in a small company that published music scores, easily the best I’ve ever read. The quietness of the place, the anonymity of what we did, the way that there were rules to follow but also the way that the scores came out right because of the level of dedication and work, most of all the sense of craft that we all had and shared–it was medieval in the best sense. (I gave myself the job title “Scribe,” although the official “Music Engraver” sounded pretty cool too.) It’s a wonderful thing, to be part of a legacy and to feel that legacy all around you. (The downside was people getting into fights over sixteenths of an inch. Still worth it.)

      • Miller

        We moved offices twice (gotta cut costs!) and I insisted in bringing a lot of archives and artifacts along, even though there really wasn’t space for them — that legacy and history is crucial. Being pissed about it being squandered and pushing back probably kept me there too long, actually.

  • The Narrator

    A terrific piece, and an even better way to convince me to get off my goddamn ass and start writing some pieces (I’ve hit a brick wall with the Nicky Katt thing, but I have other ideas in the wings).

  • Belated Comebacker

    He says he hates to storyboard: “that’s fine when you’re doing sex, lies [and videotape]. It’s a little more precarious and nerve-wracking when you’re doing it on a movie like this.”

    Reading this again (having already listened to every Soderbergh audio commentary track at least once), is all the more surprising to me, since my own instincts go in the complete opposite direction. I can’t imagine spending any time planning out your shots in advance, especially when working on a movie of this size and caliber!

    (Chances are this is where his experience in directing “Out of Sight” and maybe even “Erin Brockovich” paid off for him: He already worked with Clooney and other major stars before on studio films, so it wasn’t as intimidating. Gotta appreciate that)

    • oops, I was unclear there. Soderbergh’s with you on this–what he meant was that not storyboarding was precarious on a movie of this scale. You’re right though, and it goes back to a point @disqus_hde7I14XwM:disqus made, and why the commentary is the real heist movie: Soderbergh loves to improvise and he loves to work with others, and he works best (@disqus_7AOfmTpErb:disqus and I talked about this here) when he can do both.

      • Belated Comebacker

        I can’t recall if it was “Ocean’s 11” or another movie he provided commentary on (I think it was “Ocean’s”), but I’m fairly certain there was one point when he sent everybody home so he could think through how to approach a specific scene or sequence.

        Having worked on a number of professional sets now (though mostly commercials and corporate videos), I have only grown more impressed with Soderbergh’s ability to do that. You just know that if anyone else tried that, the producer(s) would come down hard against it, as that’s a lot of money to burn (no matter how effective the end result). Props to him for sticking to it though, as it inevitably makes for a better movie.

  • DJ JD

    Late to the game but great piece. I can’t add much more than that this helped me suss out why I find that movie satisfying at such a deep level when at a glance it’s just a slice of ring-a-ding breeze.