Driver's EDitorial #11: A True Crime Story For Hollywood


by: Brad Sturdivant

Our Driver’s EDitorial is a weekly column designed to express our opinion on something going on in Hollywood today. Sometimes we whine and complain about something we wish was different, other times we heap praise on the system for getting it right.

Even though we despise criminals in real life, everyone loves a great heist film.  Few things spark intensity as well as watching a criminal attempt to take something that’s not theirs, especially if the criminal is nice and charming.  What makes a lot of these films even better is that some of them are actually based on real characters.  But when you start looking at some of the more famous robbers of all time, most of them end up like Dillenger or Capone, as in…dead.


Hollywood has always had a fascination with criminals.

Recently, the notorious British criminal, Ronnie Biggs was “released” from British prison after serving eight years for a crime he committed back in 1963.  You might be thinking that he did the crime and then lived a dangerous life on the run for 30 years, narrowly escaping death at every turn.  Well, you’d be wrong.  He committed the robbery, was caught, sentenced and then escaped prison 15 months later.  Once he escaped, he fled to Rio di Jinero, basking on the beautiful beaches of Brazil and living a lavish, playboy lifestyle all the while flaunting it in front of British authorities that couldn’t get Brazil to agree to extradite him.  The only reason they got him eight years ago is because he wanted to return to England before he died.

Biggs 1

Biggs in 1989, living it up in Brazil.

If that isn’t a cool story, then I don’t know what is.  Here’s a guy who committed a train robbery, escaped prison and lived the dream lifestyle that every movie criminal dreams of, usually right before they get caught and/or killed.  But Biggs lived out that dream and is one of the few criminals in the world that pulled it off.  A movie about his exploits would have everything from a daring train robbery to an intense prison escape.  Add in the public attention and hero status he gained over the years and you have a Hollywood tale that’s so-perfect-it-must-be-made-up.

Biggs 2

Biggs after his first arrest in 1964

So I don’t really have any suggestions as to who should direct and star in the film.  Personally, I picture Jude Law when I think of Ronnie Biggs, but that’s just me.  Maybe this would be good for him if he can take a break from impregnating random women across the globe.  But the one request I have is that they don’t call this movie “The Great Train Robbery”.  Don’t make this movie about robbing trains or breaking out of prison.  This is a movie about a man and the amazing, yet criminal, life he managed to live.

As much as I would like to see Biggs’s story on the big screen, I don’t want to make too light of the fact that what he did was criminal.  Someone actually got severely hurt during the robbery and I hope that Ronnie feels genuine remorse for that.  But I think the story of Ronnie Biggs is a fascinating tale that would make a great movie (and no, I don’t count the two films in the 60’s that were loosely based on his story).  In this day and age of rehashed, unoriginal stories, it would be nice to make a movie like this and the fact that it’s true makes it that much better.

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