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The Great Bank Hoax (1978)

PG | | Comedy | November 1978 (USA)
The officers of a small town bank discover a huge shortfall just before the bank examiners are due to visit. Not knowing who the crook is, they decide to fix the books and then rob the bank themselves to cover up everything.


Joseph Jacoby


Joseph Jacoby


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Complete credited cast:
Richard Basehart ... Manny Benchly
Ned Beatty ... Julius Taggart
Charlene Dallas ... Cathy Bonano
Burgess Meredith ... Jack Stutz
Michael Murphy ... Reverend Manigma
Paul Sand ... Richard Smedley
Constance Forslund ... Patricia Potter
Arthur Godfrey ... Maj. Bryer (Ret.)
John C. Becher John C. Becher ... Alex Kaiser
Guy Le Bow Guy Le Bow ... The Sheriff
John Lefkowitz John Lefkowitz ... Deputy Bert
Bibi Osterwald ... Sara Pennysworth
Alek Primrose Alek Primrose ... Rev. DeVerite
Martha Sherrill Martha Sherrill ... Louise Farthington
Roy Tatum Roy Tatum ... Deputy Jason


The officers of a small town bank discover a huge shortfall just before the bank examiners are due to visit. Not knowing who the crook is, they decide to fix the books and then rob the bank themselves to cover up everything.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


God Bless America. But grab what you can, just in case. See more »










Release Date:

November 1978 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Shenanigans See more »

Filming Locations:

Madison, Georgia, USA

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


According to a 1977 Christian Science Monitor interview with Burgess Meredith, the film was shot under the title "Remember Those Poker-Playing Monkeys." See more »


Manny Benchly: If you had the opportunity right now, what would you like to be?
Julius Taggart: Right now?
Manny Benchly: Yep, right now.
Julius Taggart: Clean.
Manny Benchly: Huh?
Julius Taggart: You know, I'd like to feel clean. Honorable! Not have any problems.
Manny Benchly: That way you might not get anywhere at all.
See more »

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User Reviews

Joesph Jacoby's 1978 Watergate Allegory Is A Lost And Evocative Gem

Discovering this film is tantamount to feeling like an archaeologist coming across an extraordinary fossil of unknown origin: directed by a treasured old friend of Martin Scorsese, produced by the acclaimed editor of Sidney Lumet's "The Pawnbroker" and several Woody Allen comedy classics, starring a then newly re-discovered Burgess Meredith after 1976's "Rocky" had brought him back into the public eye, with Ned Beatty of "Network" and "Deliverance" fame and the venerable Richard Basehart, Micheal Murphy, the forgotten Paul Sand, and beautiful Constance Forslund and lovely Charlene Dallas rounding out the cast. But this alone does not begin to describe the particularly strange and noteworthy qualities of "The Great Bank Hoax", for it appears to be a movie existing in an alternate and twilight-set universe of it's very own. Shot on location in the small town of Madison, Georgia, there is a sense of almost vivid suffocation and claustrophobia pervading every square inch of the film's atmosphere, most specifically it's prison cell-like spaces with actors crammed into tiny curtained backrooms, teller's cages, and dimly-lit storage closets, it's empty and economically depressed Jimmy Carter-era Main Street with it's sad and bored high school orchestra and threadbare Fourth of July parade, it's rotting and isolated clapboard church ministered by a corrupt priest and surrounded by overgrown trees and forlorn stained glass windows, it's black-walled bingo parlor, lonely rooming houses, cracked country backroads, and dingy old motels, and most specifically it's melancholic and very off-kilter comic tone fueling it's allegorical Watergate satire, neither slapstick or laugh-out loud funny, but more of an aching and ill-defined humorous desperation, representing both the film's November 1978 release date and the waning days of that decade's diminishing faith in any sense of institutional post-Nixonian reform or improvement, a snapshot in time before the rise of a neo-conservative revolution that would sweep a fundamentalist Republican into the White House a mere 24 months later, leading directly towards our own present-day drama of 21st-century global malaise. Beneath it's surface of scheming females, bumbling bankers, and phony Christians lies one of the last remaining anti-establishment comedies that would quickly flourish and then disappear in the aftermath of the classic "Animal House", so it behooves any dedicated film historian to unearth and appreciate it's unique and singularly eccentric charms.

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