The heist film or caper film is a subgenre of crime film focused on the planning, execution, and aftermath of a significant robbery.
One of the early defining heist films was The Asphalt Jungle (1950), which Film Genre 2000 wrote "almost single-handedly popularized the genre for mainstream cinema". It featured robbers whose personal failings ultimately led to the failure of their robbery. Similar films using this formula were Armored Car Robbery (1950), The Killing (1956), and The Getaway (1972). By the 1990s, heist films began to "experiment and play with these conventions," incorporating things like comedy into heist stories.
While there is sometimes some confusion as to what counts as a heist film, there are characteristics that most films in the genre follow.
The most basic of these is that films in the genre tend to follow the planning, execution and aftermath of one large robbery.  While there can be smaller crimes leading up to the major crime, this major crime is the centerpiece of the film and is the event which informs much of the film's plot.  As a result of this, heist films tend to focus on the process of the heist, often showing how the criminals plan the heist in great detail. They also tend to devote a large portion of the film's runtime to the heist itself, giving the viewer a detailed look of how the criminals complete the heist.
The genre is also distinct for almost exclusively following the people who are committing the crime rather than following the people trying to stop the criminals.  This often leads to the viewer building some form of sympathy or respect for the criminals.  Another common characteristic of the heist film is the assembling of a team to complete the heist.  Each team member often has some unique skill or set of skills which are needed to complete the heist. 
Over time filmmakers have taken these characteristics and changed them to create interesting plays on the genre. For example, Reservoir Dogs (1992) skips the planning and execution of the heist, choosing instead to focus exclusively on the aftermath. Another example of this is The Italian Job (1969), which shows the planning and execution of the heist but doesn't fully show the aftermath.
While those characteristics stand as the defining characteristics of the genre, there are other tropes and trends which frequently appear. One such trend is the failure of the heist due to some failing of the criminals involved in the heist. These failings include one of the criminals in the heist getting injured during the heist, or one of the criminals betraying the others during or after the heist.  This trend started as a result of the initial films in the genre being made in Hollywood during the Motion Picture Production Code.  Under the code, criminals were not allowed to get away with crime, so the heists in these early movies all fail, establishing it as a trend in the genre. In the years since the code filmmakers have made heist films where the criminals get away;  however, the trope of failed heists still exists in modern films. One of the most dynamic examples is Reservoir Dogs, which focuses solely on trying to figure out which of their group members betrayed them after a failed heist. Another popular trope is "one last job", whereby a criminal looking to stop being a criminal enlists the team to do one last heist so they will have money for the rest of their life. This can be seen in early films such as The Asphalt Jungle (1950) as well as more recent films like Heat (1995).
While elements of the heist film can be seen in movies as early as The Great Train Robbery (1903), the genre didn't begin until the late 1940s and the early 1950s.  The film widely agreed upon as the first film in the genre is John Huston's 1950 film The Asphalt Jungle, starring Sterling Hayden and Sam Jaffee (with Marilyn Monroe in a supporting role).  The film contains many of the hallmarks of the genre, the most obvious of which is its following of the planning, execution, and aftermath of a single heist from the criminal's perspective.  It also devotes a large amount of time to the heist itself and involves a group of variously skilled criminals who are brought together to complete the crime. Two earlier films that some consider earlier examples of the genre  are Criss Cross (1949) and The Killers (1946). While these films do follow the planning, execution, and aftermath of a single heist from the criminals' perspective, critics argue that they devote too much time to the planning and aftermath of the heist and too little to the actual heist.  As a result they are frequently cited as key films in the development of the genre but not the start of the genre itself.  All of these films are also notable for having elements which are indebted to the film noir genre. This includes their moody, expressionistic black and white cinematography as well as a dark and fatalistic tone key in film noir. As a result, scholars such as Daryl Lee refer to this era of heist films as “noir heists”.  Anne Billson of the BBC cites Akira Kurosawa's Seven Samurai (1954) as an influence on the "assembling the team" trope that later became a common characteristic of heist films. 
The period between 1955 - 1975 is considered by scholars to be the most productive period of the heist genre. This period began with American filmmakers continuing the noir heist trend in films like 5 Against the House (1955) and The Killing (1956). The 50s also saw the release of the first international heist films. Notably, a handful of heist films made in France were influenced by and responding to the American noir heists. Two notable films are Rififi (1955), which is known for its detailed 30 minute heist sequence, and Bob Le Flambeur (1956), known for its playful ending which plays with the conventions of the heist genre.  The 1950s also marked the beginning of British heist films, notable ones being The Lavender Hill Mob (1951) and The Lady Killers (1955), films whose importance comes from the introduction of comedy to the heist genre. This was uncommon for the genre at the time but became more common in later heist films.  Another notable heist film from this period is the Italian film Big Deal on Madonna Street (1958), a parody of the heist genre. 
In the 1960s heist stories became more mainstream, with glossier and higher-budget heist films which moved away from the fatalism and darkness present in the earlier noir heists.  Two examples of this from the early 1960s are the British film The League of Gentlemen (1960) and the American film Seven Thieves (1960). Despite having conventional heist plots about gathering together a group to commit a heist, both films balance comedy and drama, unlike the darkness of the earlier noir heist films.  The mainstream shift as well as a growing cultural interest in travel led to a wave of glossy heist films involving exotic international locals, such as Topkapi (1964) and How to Steal a Million (1966). In France Rififi spawned a number of lower-budget crime films which often used Rififi as part of their title. These include films such as Rififi in Tokyo (1963) and Du rififi à Paname (1966). As the decade continued, the French also began to produce more glossy heist films which served as star vehicles for big stars of the time, such as Any Number Can Win (1963) starring Alain Delon and Greed in the Sun (1964) starring Jean-Paul Belmondo.  The most celebrated French heist films of this time where directed by Jean-Pierre Melville, whose heist film Le Cercle Rouge (1970) is often regarded as one of the greatest heist movies of all time.  This expansion of the genre in the 1960s also led to remakes of older heist movies, with an early example being Cairo (1963), which is a remake of The Asphalt Jungle.  In 1968, the motion picture production code was abolished, paving the way for a number of heist films that didn't shy away from portraying graphic violence. This included films like Charley Varrick (1973) and The Getaway (1972). Another important 1970s heist film is Sidney Lumet's 1975 film Dog Day Afternoon , which is regarded by some critics as the last important heist film of the genre's most productive era. 
The period between 1975 and the early 1990s is considered a low point for productivity in the heist genre.  While there were some films made in the genre such as Thief (1981) and a remake of Big Deal on Madonna Street called Crackers (1984), critics don't consider these films as meaningful developments of the genre.  The 1990s would see the return of the heist genre, with a number of films creating new interest. While films like John Woo's Once a Thief (1991) and Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight (1998) would bring some interest in the genre, the three films which most brought the genre back to prominence were Reservoir Dogs (1992), Heat (1995) and The Usual Suspects (1995), all of which were big enough hits that they reintroduced a large audience to the pleasures of the heist genre.
This renewed interest led to a large output of heist films throughout the 2000s. These range from British films like Snatch (2000) and Sexy Beast (2000) to kids' films like Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) to popular Hollywood films like Inside Man (2006) and remakes of heist classics like The Italian Job (2003).  Some of the most popular heist films of this era are the remake of Ocean's 11 (2001) and its sequels Oceans 12 (2004) and Oceans 13 (2007). These films were hits on release and are still popular today.
|Armored Car Robbery||1950|||
|Army of the Dead||2021|||
|Army of Thieves||2021|
|The Asphalt Jungle||1950|||
|The Bad Guys||2022|||
|Bande à part||1964|||
|The Bank Job||2008|||
|Big Deal on Madonna Street||1958|||
|Bob le flambeur||1956|||
|Bonnie and Clyde||1967|||
|Le Cercle Rouge||1970|||
|Den of Thieves||2018|||
|Le deuxième souffle||1966|||
|Dog Day Afternoon||1975|||
|A Fish Called Wanda||1988|||
|Going in Style||1979|
|Going in Style||2017|||
|Gone in 60 Seconds||2000|
|The Hatton Garden Job||2017|||
|Hell or High Water||2016|||
|Hell's Angels '69||1969|||
|The Hot Rock||1972|||
|House of Games||1987|
|How to Steal a Million||1966|||
|The Italian Job||1969|||
|The Italian Job||2003|||
|King of Thieves||2018|||
|The Lavender Hill Mob||1951|||
|Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels||1998|||
|Now You See Me||2013|||
|Now You See Me 2||2016|
|Out of Sight||1998|||
|Set It Off||1996|||
|The Thomas Crown Affair||1968|||
|The Thomas Crown Affair||1999|||
|The Usual Suspects||1995|||
|Wrath of Man||2021|||
Entrapment is a 1999 caper film directed by Jon Amiel and written by Ronald Bass. It stars Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta-Jones and includes Will Patton, Ving Rhames and Maury Chaykin. The film focuses on the relationship between investigator Virginia "Gin" Baker and professional thief Robert "Mac" MacDougal as they attempt a heist at the turn of the New Millennium. Simon West and Antoine Fuqua were both in talks to direct before Amiel was hired.
The Killing is a 1956 American film noir directed by Stanley Kubrick and produced by James B. Harris. It was written by Kubrick and Jim Thompson and based on Lionel White's novel Clean Break. It stars Sterling Hayden, Coleen Gray, and Vince Edwards, and features Marie Windsor, Elisha Cook Jr., Jay C. Flippen and Timothy Carey.
Reservoir Dogs is a 1992 American neo-noir crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino in his feature-length debut. It stars Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Chris Penn, Steve Buscemi, Lawrence Tierney, Michael Madsen, Tarantino, and Edward Bunker as diamond thieves whose heist of a jewelry store goes terribly wrong. Kirk Baltz, Randy Brooks, and Steven Wright also play supporting roles. It incorporates many motifs that have become Tarantino's hallmarks: violent crime, pop culture references, profanity, and nonlinear storytelling.
Crime films, in the broadest sense, is a film genre inspired by and analogous to the crime fiction literary genre. Films of this genre generally involve various aspects of crime and its detection. Stylistically, the genre may overlap and combine with many other genres, such as drama or gangster film, but also include comedy, and, in turn, is divided into many sub-genres, such as mystery, suspense or noir.
Big Deal on Madonna Street is a 1958 Italian comedy caper film directed by Mario Monicelli and considered to be among the masterpieces of Italian cinema. Its original Italian title literally translates as "the usual unknown ones", which is roughly equivalent to the English phrase "the usual suspects". The name of the Roman street in the English title is a slight mistranslation, as the Italian name of the fictional Roman street on which the midnight burglary in the film takes place is the Via delle Madonne rather than "Madonna Street". Compounding the confusion is the fact that the real Roman street on which the scene was filmed is the Via delle tre cannelle, rather than the Via delle tre Madonne.
The Asphalt Jungle is a 1950 American film noir heist film directed by John Huston. Based on the 1949 novel of the same name by W. R. Burnett, it tells the story of a jewel robbery in a Midwestern city. The film stars Sterling Hayden and Louis Calhern, and features Jean Hagen, James Whitmore, Sam Jaffe, and John McIntire. Marilyn Monroe also appears, in one of her earliest roles.
After the Sunset is a 2004 American heist action comedy film directed by Brett Ratner and starring Pierce Brosnan as Max Burdett, a master thief caught in a pursuit with FBI agent Stan Lloyd, played by Woody Harrelson. It was shot in the Bahamas. The film was met with negative reviews and flopped at the box office.
The Great Muppet Caper is a 1981 musical heist comedy film directed by Jim Henson and the second theatrical film featuring the Muppets. The film stars Muppet performers Henson, Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, and Steve Whitmire, as well as Charles Grodin and Diana Rigg with special cameo appearances by John Cleese, Robert Morley, Peter Ustinov, and Jack Warden. The film was produced by ITC Entertainment and The Jim Henson Company and distributed by Universal Pictures. In the plot, the Muppets are caught up in a jewel heist while investigating a robbery in London.
Rififi is a 1955 French crime film adaptation of Auguste Le Breton's novel of the same name. Directed by American blacklisted filmmaker Jules Dassin, the film stars Jean Servais as the aging gangster Tony "le Stéphanois", Carl Möhner as Jo "le Suédois", Robert Manuel as Mario Farrati, and Jules Dassin as César "le Milanais". The foursome band together to commit an almost impossible theft, the burglary of an exclusive jewelry shop in the Rue de la Paix. The centerpiece of the film is an intricate half-hour heist scene depicting the crime in detail, shot in near silence, without dialogue or music. The fictional burglary has been mimicked by criminals in actual crimes around the world.
Armored Car Robbery is a 1950 American film noir starring Charles McGraw, Adele Jergens, and William Talman.
Bob le flambeur is a 1956 French heist gangster film directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and starring Roger Duchesne as Bob. It is often considered both a film noir and a precursor to the French New Wave, the latter because of its use of handheld camera and a single jump cut.
$, also known as Dollar$, Dollars or $ (Dollars), and in the UK as The Heist, is a 1971 American comedy film starring Warren Beatty and Goldie Hawn, written and directed by Richard Brooks and produced by M.J. Frankovich. The supporting cast includes Gert Fröbe, Robert Webber and Scott Brady. The film is about a bank security consultant (Beatty) who develops a scheme with a prostitute, Dawn Divine (Hawn), to steal several criminals' money from a bank vault.
L.A. Takedown, also called L.A. Crimewave and Made in L.A., is a 1989 crime thriller. Originally filmed as an unsuccessful pilot for an NBC television series, it was reworked and aired as a stand-alone TV film. The film was later released on VHS and, in Region 2, on DVD. L.A. Takedown was written and directed by Michael Mann and its ensemble cast includes Scott Plank, Alex McArthur, Michael Rooker, Daniel Baldwin, and Xander Berkeley. Scott Plank starred as Vincent Hanna, a detective on the hunt for professional criminal Patrick McLaren, played by McArthur; the story was based on the real-life investigation of Chicago criminal Neil McCauley. The film is best known as the basis for the 1995 film Heat. The film was moderately well received in retrospective reviews, but remains overshadowed by its remake.
The Hot Rock is a 1972 American crime comedy-drama film directed by Peter Yates from a screenplay by William Goldman, based on Donald E. Westlake's novel of the same name, which introduced his long-running John Dortmunder character. The film stars Robert Redford, George Segal, Ron Leibman, Paul Sand, Moses Gunn and Zero Mostel. It was released in the UK with the alternative title How to Steal a Diamond in Four Uneasy Lessons.
Family Business is a 1989 American neo noir crime film directed by Sidney Lumet with a screenplay by Vincent Patrick, based on his novel. It stars Sean Connery, Dustin Hoffman and Matthew Broderick.
The Big Caper is a 1957 American film noir crime film directed by Robert Stevens and starring Rory Calhoun, Mary Costa and James Gregory.
Thriller film, also known as suspense film or suspense thriller, is a broad film genre that evokes excitement and suspense in the audience. The suspense element found in most films' plots is particularly exploited by the filmmaker in this genre. Tension is created by delaying what the audience sees as inevitable, and is built through situations that are menacing or where escape seems impossible.
5 Against the House is a 1955 American heist film directed by Phil Karlson and starring Guy Madison, Kim Novak and Brian Keith. The supporting cast includes William Conrad. The screenplay is based on Jack Finney's 1954 novel of the same name, later serialized by Good Housekeeping magazine. The film centers on a fictional robbery of what was a real Nevada casino, Harold's Club.
Auguste Le Breton was a French novelist who wrote primarily about the criminal underworld. His novels were adapted into several notable films of the 1950s, such as Rififi, Razzia sur la chnouf, Le rouge est mis and Le clan des siciliens. He wrote the dialogue for the noir film Bob le flambeur.
A gangster film or gangster movie is a film belonging to a genre that focuses on gangs and organized crime. It is a subgenre of crime film, that may involve large criminal organizations, or small gangs formed to perform a certain illegal act. The genre is differentiated from Westerns and the gangs of that genre.