|First appearance||The Olsen Gang (1968)|
|Last appearance||The Olsen Gang's Last Trick (1998)|
|Type||Fictional crime syndicate|
The Olsen Gang (Danish : Olsen-banden, Norwegian : Olsenbanden, German : Die Olsenbande) is a Danish comedy film series created by Danish director Erik Balling and special effects expert Henning Bahs about the eponymous fictional criminal gang. The gang's leader is the criminal genius and habitual offender Egon Olsen and his accomplices are Benny and Kjeld (Kjell in Norwegian). The gang members are harmless, extremely rarely target ordinary citizens, and never deliberately use violence. [lower-alpha 1] The first film came in 1968; during the next thirty years a total of fourteen films were made.
A Norwegian version of the film series was also made (a total of 14 films from 1969 to 1999), in most cases based directly on the scripts for the Danish films. Later, starting in 1981, Sweden also produced their own version: Jönssonligan . 
Most of the films start with Egon coming out of jail and being enthusiastically welcomed by Benny and Kjeld. The three men will then have a beer together in the living room of Kjeld's home in Valby, where Egon will inform his friends of his latest plan, for making them millionaires. Plans are often two-step plans, where the first heist will get the equipment for the real, second plan. The plans usually feature everyday artifacts such as Lego, party balloons, cigarettes, etc., which are then brought together in surprising ways in elaborate and well-timed plans, often including clever social engineering. Bennys function in the heists, besides get-away-driver, is picking locks and starting machinery using "The Thing", a specially shaped brass piece used for manipulating machinery and opening doors. Egon often serves time with lawyers or executives who provide him with the information he needs, such as duty rosters for the national public record office. Egon is also a brilliant safecracker, operating manually, specializing in the fictive "Franz Jäger" brand.
Egon's plans often bring the gang into perilously close contact with white-collar criminals from the Danish business (and political) elite. For example, in the ninth installment named "Olsen-banden deruda" well-connected people try to make money out of the so-called "butter mountain", a huge amount of butter bought up and stored by the EEC (now the EU) to keep prices up. Egon Olsen learns about this from a lawyer who is serving prison time, and the gang interferes with the plan to secure the millions for themselves. But as always, Egon – after having succeeded with a genius plan – fails for a variety of reasons, for instance underestimating the power and unscrupulousness of these people, bad luck, interference from Kjeld's wife Yvonne, or other surprising elements. For several movies, the role of the antagonist was filled by CEO Hallandsen of the fictive, multinational company Hallandsen Inc. - or variations thereof. Egon is usually arrested in the end, for various reasons: scapegoat, bad luck, some irrelevant crime, or even turning himself in as a matter of honor.
A recurring part of the film is making fun of Danish authorities, especially the police. In some earlier installments, the clumsy Police Inspector Mortensen is used for slapstick comic relief; he is later replaced by Superintendent Jensen, an older, troubled man who has seen better days. He is a resigned character who despises the Danish government as he often criticizes Hallandsen crimes going unnoticed and mentions to his assistant, Inspector Holm: "The only thing the police can do when the real big criminals come by is offer them protection!" Jensen incredulously uses the recurring exclamation "Bagmændene!" (Behind-men/Big Fishes) to reference the in-joke of powerful players moving outside of the law.
In the early installments, profanity and soft-erotica (scantily-clad women) were more freely used than in later ones, where said content was somewhat watered down to suit younger viewers. Later movies focused on the satirical interplay between Jensen and Holm and Egon and his crew, with a frequent outburst of anger from Egon. His long list of slurs is especially famous, like "social democrats!", "insane woman!" (to Yvonne), "lousy amateurs!", "cowards!", "dog heads!", "porridge peasants!", "sop!", "scumbags!", to name a few.
Recurring characters in the Danish version:
The Olsen Gang have been made in Norwegian and Swedish ( Jönssonligan ) versions too. While both remakes follow a generally similar formula to the Danish films, the Swedish version diverges considerably from the Danish original in terms of storylines and character development.
The Norwegian remakes were, with two exceptions, directed by Knut Bohwim based on Balling and Bahs's original scripts with minor adaptations to Norwegian conditions. For example, some names of the main characters were changed: Kjeld became Kjell, Yvonne became Valborg, and Børge became Basse. The character of Benny's brother, Dynamite Harry, was used much more often in the Norwegian films than in the original Danish series, with six appearances.
In the Swedish version, the Egon character is called Charles-Ingvar "Sickan" Jönsson, with a slightly different costume and mannerisms, and was a huge success for the actor Gösta Ekman until the actor got tired of the character and left the series. Benny's character was named (Ragnar) Vanheden, a small-timer from Stockholm, played by Ulf Brunnberg. Kjeld's character was named Rocky, but appeared only in the first two films. From the second film, the character Dynamit-Harry played by Björn Gustafson (who has had rather minor parts in the original Danish films) was featured instead. Although starting out as a strict remake, after a while the franchise started writing their own scripts.
The Swedish franchise eventually expanded into movies of the band as young kids: Lilla Jönssonligan (little Jönsson band) with four features to date.
There was also an attempt to reboot the franchise, featuring brand new actors in the adult roles. Jönssonligan – Den perfekta stöten (2015) was released to middling reviews and poor box office.
The first thirteen films were directed by Erik Balling, while Tom Hedegaard and Morten Arnfred directed the fourteenth and final Olsen Gang film. The scripts were written by Balling and Henning Bahs, who also worked as a production designer.
|English title (Original title)||Release date||Notes|
|The Olsen Gang (Olsen-banden)||October 11, 1968|
|The Olsen Gang in a Fix (Olsen-banden på spanden)||October 3, 1969|
|The Olsen Gang in Jutland (Olsen-banden i Jylland)||October 8, 1971|
|The Olsen Gang's Big Score (Olsen-bandens store kup)||October 6, 1972|
|The Olsen Gang Goes Crazy (Olsen-banden går amok)||October 5, 1973|
|The Last Exploits of the Olsen Gang (Olsen-bandens sidste bedrifter)||October 4, 1974||This was intended to be the last movie at the time it was made.|
|The Olsen Gang on the Track (Olsen-banden på sporet)||September 26, 1975|
|The Olsen Gang Sees Red (Olsen-banden ser rødt)||October 1, 1976||This movie contains the famous showdown scene in which the gang bombs, drills, and hammers its way through the basement of the Royal Danish Theatre in synchronicity with the music of Friedrich Kuhlau's overture to the opera Elverhøj .|
|The Olsen Gang Outta Sight (Olsen-banden deruda')||September 30, 1977|
|The Olsen Gang Goes to War (Olsen-banden går i krig)||October 6, 1978|
|The Olsen Gang Never Surrenders (Olsen-banden overgiver sig aldrig)||October 26, 1979|
|The Olsen Gang's Escape over the Fence (Olsen-bandens flugt over plankeværket)||October 16, 1981|
|Olsen-banden over alle bjerge (The Olsen Gang Long Gone)||December 26, 1981|
|The Olsen Gang's Last Trick (Olsen-bandens sidste stik)||December 18, 1998||The actor in the role as "Kjeld Jensen", Poul Bundgaard, died while filming the last movie. The actor Tommy Kenter stepped in to fill his role to finish the film. This was hidden through various effects and cover-up techniques.|
A Danish TV series and a feature film have been made showing the main characters as children, following the Swedish success of Lilla Jönssonligan :
Two computer animated films have been released in the 2010s:
Several elements recur in the film series. As the Japanese carmaker Toyota was usually the main sponsor of the film series, most cars, including the villain's cars, the security cars, the police cars, the gang's car, civilian cars parked on the sidewalks, etc., were supplied by the company. Models include the Crown as taxis, Toyota Cressida as police cars, Hiace as security vans and money transports, and so on. There have been exceptions, notably Olsenbandens aller siste kupp (The Olsen-Gang's Very Last Coup) from 1982, which was sponsored by Datsun.
In 2022, a film reboot with a new team of actors was released, where the Olsen Gang make plans to steal the painting The Scream from the Munch Museum.
Most of the Norwegian films have been digitally restored. The discs include English & Norwegian Subtitles, 16:9 format and Dolby Digital 1.0 surround sound.
DVD release list:
The Danish TV series showing the gang during their childhood, Olsen-bandens første kup , was remade in Norway as Olsenbandens første kupp . There has also been made an entire feature film series, Olsenbanden Jr. , with six films from 2003 to 2010, inspired by the Swedish Lilla Jönssonligan .
The popularity of the film series inspired a Norwegian restaurant chain, Egon, with the logo alluding to Egon Olsen's iconic hat and cigar.
Semic published five Norwegian comic albums featuring the Olsen Gang, eight original stories, starting with "Olsenbanden raner hurtigruta!" published in 1983.  
In June 2019, the Norwegian Postal service issued two stamps to celebrate the first film's 50th anniversary. The domestic stamp depicts Egon leaving prison, which is the opening scene in most of the films. The European stamp shows the whole gang, including Harry and Valborg. 
The dubbed versions of the series have also enjoyed great popularity in the former GDR and can still be seen regularly on regional television stations. More than 3000 people are members of the German Olsenbanden fan club.  The stage name of Betterov, a musician from Thuringia, is a reference to the eponymous supporting character Betterøv in the series. 
Egon Olsen is a fictional character in the Danish Olsenbanden film series as well as in the Norwegian remake. He is portrayed by Ove Sprogøe in the Danish version and by Arve Opsahl in the Norwegian. In the Swedish version of the series, Jönssonligan, his part was taken by the character Charles Ingvar "Sickan" Jönsson, played by Gösta Ekman.
Pål Johannessen is a Norwegian former child actor.
Olsenbanden Jr. is a Norwegian comedy franchise based around a series of films and TV series of under-age criminals, based on the Olsenbanden films. Despite the original Olsen Gang being a Danish invention, the child version was originally a Swedish idea, Lilla Jönssonligan, with Denmark and Norway later following suit.
Olsenbanden Jr. og Sølvgruvens hemmelighet is a 2007 Norwegian children's film, the fourth movie of the Olsenbanden Jr. series.
Lilla Jönssonligan is a Swedish film series that consists of four movies. The film series is a spin-off of the original Jönssonligan film series, featuring the main characters as kids instead of adults. Unlike the "adult Jönssonligan", where the gang where bumbling anti-heroes, the "litte Jönssonligan" is often straight up heroic.
The Olsen Gang is a 1968 Danish comedy film directed by Erik Balling and starring Ove Sprogøe, Morten Grunwald, and Poul Bundgaard. This was the first film in the Olsen-banden-series.
The Olsen Gang in a Fix is a 1969 Danish comedy film directed by Erik Balling and starring Ove Sprogøe. The film was the second in the Olsen-banden-series.
The Olsen Gang's Big Score is a 1972 Danish comedy film directed by Erik Balling and starring Ove Sprogøe. The film was the fourth in the Olsen-banden-series.
The Olsen Gang on the Track is a 1975 Danish comedy film directed by Erik Balling and starring Ove Sprogøe. The film was the seventh in the Olsen-banden-series.
The Olsen Gang Over the Hill is a 1981 Danish comedy film directed by Erik Balling and starring Ove Sprogøe.
The Olsen Gang Goes Crazy is a 1973 Danish comedy film directed by Erik Balling and starring Ove Sprogøe. This was the fifth film in the Olsen Gang-series.
The Last Exploits of the Olsen Gang is a 1974 Danish comedy film directed by Erik Balling and starring Ove Sprogøe, Morten Grunwald, Poul Bundgaard and Kirsten Walther. This was the sixth film in the Olsen Gang-series, and at the time of production it was meant to be the last. It was selected as the Danish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 47th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.
The Olsen Gang Sees Red is a 1976 Danish comedy film directed by Erik Balling and starring Ove Sprogøe, Morten Grunwald and Poul Bundgaard. The film was the eighth in the Olsen Gang-series, and was selected as the Danish entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 49th Academy Awards, but was not accepted as a nominee.
The Olsen Gang's Last Trick is a 1998 Danish comedy film directed by Tom Hedegaard and Morten Arnfred, and starring Ove Sprogøe. The film was the 14th and last in the Olsen Gang-series.
The Olsen Gang in Jutland is a 1971 Danish comedy film directed by Erik Balling and starring Ove Sprogøe. The film was the third installment in the Olsen Gang-series.
Olsen-banden Junior is a 2001 Danish family-comedy heist film. It is a prequel to the long running Danish film series Olsen-banden, and an implementation of the concept used by the Swedish Olsen-banden remakes prequels Lilla Jönssonligan. The film is also a sequel to the Christmas calendar Olsen-bandens første kup from 1999. The film premiered on December 14, 2001. The film was a moderate success compared to the original series and the Swedish and Norwegian equivalents. The film later received a novelization of the same name.
Ulf Wengård was a Norwegian actor. He was known for his comedy roles, and he appeared in many of the Olsen Gang films.
Dan Fosse was a Norwegian actor. He is best known for his role as the housemaster Haukås in the Stompa films and as the voice of Bodø in the radio plays about Stompa & Co.
Olsen Gang Gets Polished is a 2010 Danish 3D computer-animated comedy film directed by Jørgen Lerdam from a screenplay by Nikolaj Peyk. Produced by A. Film Production and Nordisk Film, it was the first animated film in the Olsen Gang film series. Olsen Gang Gets Polished was released on 14 October 2010. It was followed in 2013 by The Olsen Gang in Deep Trouble.
The Olsen Gang in Deep Trouble is a 2013 Danish 3D computer-animated comedy film directed by Jørgen Lerdam from a screenplay by Tine Krull Petersen. Released on 10 October 2013, it is a sequel to Olsen Gang Gets Polished and is the second animated film in the Olsen Gang franchise. Produced by A. Film Production and Nordisk Film, it was released on 10 October 2013.