We recommend eight movies to watch after you see Steven Soderbergh’s latest.
The return of Steven Soderbergh to the big screen is something to celebrate. The filmmaker had announced his retirement but arose to direct Logan Lucky, another enjoyable heist movie in the spirit of his Ocean’s trilogy. In honor of the occasion, it’s been a time to revisit Soderbergh’s career, maybe do a personal ranking of his filmography on Letterboxed, or perhaps stick just to the Channing Tatum collaborations if you’re short on leisure hours. In anticipation of the new release, we also recommended essential heist movies to watch before seeing Logan Lucky.
Now it’s time for our weekly list of movies to watch after. As much as I wanted to avoid inclusion of more heist movies, that was pretty much impossible. Logan Lucky is little more than its plot, story-wise. Same as those Ocean’s movies — which I also intended to exclude but ultimately settled on one installment of the franchise for a certain reason. Find out why below along with seven other picks.
Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Heist films often involve crimes committed during big set pieces, and sporting events are among them. Logan Lucky might be the first to use a NASCAR race for its backdrop, but in the past we’ve seen Ben Affleck’s 2010 movie The Town, which features a robbery at Boston’s Fenway Park, Stanley Kubrick’s 1956 classic The Killing, which depicts a heist at a horse racing track, and the 1951 Italian film Four Ways Out, directed by Pietro Germi and co-written by Federico Fellini, where the crime takes place during a big soccer match. Sadly, the last one isn’t available in the US.
Before all of those, Richard Fleischer’s Armed Car Robbery set its robbery at the old Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. The crime is rather quick and occurs completely outside the ballpark — cheers punctuate the soundtrack, though, so we know there’s a game going on inside — as a gang steals from an armored car during its pickup of the stadium’s cash. Most of the movie follows the aftermath of the heist, which goes wrong but is not entirely unsuccessful. Due to the Hays Code still being at play, though, all the criminals are eventually caught or killed and the police detectives are therefore the main heroes. That’s not a spoiler, because those were the rules.
Hardly one of the best Elvis musicals, and not one of his box office successes, Speedway wasn’t even the first or the second Elvis vehicle to put him behind the wheel of a race car. But it was apparently the first movie to give proper credit, in the opening titles, to the NASCAR drivers performing the racing footage. Stock car legends Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Buddy Baker, Tiny Lund, G.C. Spencer, Roy Maine, and Dick Hutcherson all appear as themselves, too — as opposed to making cameos as cops and guards and other minor roles, like the NASCAR stars on screen in Logan Lucky. Also playing itself in Speedway is the Charlotte Motor Speedway, site of the heist in Soderbergh’s movie. Logan Lucky also shot some scenes at the real North Carolina location, though the Atlanta Motor Speedway doubles for Charlotte for many scenes. Speedway wasn’t totally filmed at Charlotte, either, of course, as you might be able to tell with the musical numbers.
Speaking of those sequences, Speedway does have one benefit over other lesser Elvis movies by having Nancy Sinatra (daughter of Frank, who starred in the original Ocean’s 11) play the female lead and perform her own, Lee Hazelwood-penned solo number, “Your Groovy Self.” Her duo with Elvis, “There Ain’t Nothing Like a Song,” is not such a good use of her talents, but at least she got to be the first artist who isn’t Elvis to have a solo tune on an Elvis movie soundtrack. As for the plot, which involves Sinatra playing an IRS agent who falls for Elvis’s income tax-delinquent race car driver, we can just pretend that the possible Logan Lucky sequel will see Hilary Swank’s FBI agent striking up a romance with Adam Driver’s character.
Speed Zone (1989)
Here’s an interesting bit of association: NASCAR’s first commissioner, legendary motorcycle racer Erwin “Cannonball” Baker, was the posthumous namesake and inspiration for the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, aka the Cannonball Run. The cross-country race inspired a number of movies, including Cannoball, Gumball Rally, The Cannonball Run, Cannonball Run II, and Speed Zone. The last three make up a trilogy, though this final installment (also known as Cannonball Fever in some markets) was barely connected to the previous two, and unlike The Cannonball Run and Cannonball Run II involved none of the Rat Pack. It does, however, feature a cameo from Richard Petty.
Although not quite the equivalent in terms of a quality drop from the original installment, the fact that Logan Lucky seems like a fourth entry in the Ocean’s franchise (initially a remake of a Rat Pack movie) but involving all different characters makes it kind of the Speed Zone to Ocean’s Eleven‘s The Cannonball Run. Speed Zone is technically Cannonball Run canon given the brief appearance of Jamie Farr’s Sheik Abdul ben Falafel character, while Logan Lucky is outside Ocean’s canon given that it features a reference to those movies during a news report labeling the speedway heist as “Ocean’s 7-11” (unless it’s set in the same universe, one where “Ocean’s Eleven” is a real famous casino heist taking its name from a man never officially linked to the crime). Logan Lucky also nearly starred Matt Damon, one of the main Ocean’s ensemble, as a different character.
O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)
Had Logan Lucky been a serious crime film, it might have fallen under the classification of “hillbilly noir,” and then I’d have to recommend the necessary Thunder Road, starring Robert Mitchum as a moonshine runner (a profession historically tied to the origins of NASCAR). But Logan Lucky is a goofy caper, more reminiscent of a Coen brothers crime comedy. Specifically this Coen brothers crime comedy, even if the two movies are set in very different time periods.
There is no big heist in O Brother, just a trio of often-dumb convicts who escape their chain gang to retrieve a treasure that one of them has buried (there’s also a small bank robbery scene). Logan Lucky has a handful of often-dumb characters, some of them convicts who have to make an escape, and one of them only seems to agree to a big job because the treasure he buried has already been found and stolen away before he could retrieve it. The ringleader in both movies also has a few interactions with an ex-wife and their daughter(s).
If you’ve never seen this Depression-era musical, loosely based on Homer’s “Odyssey,” then you’ll want to just to get the reference made in so many Logan Lucky reviews, including New York magazine (“a touch of the Coen Brothers’ Raising Arizona and O Brother, Where Art Thou?“), the New York Post (“there are shades here of Raising Arizona and O Brother, Where Art Thou? for sure”), RogerEbert.com (“filled with dimwitted braggarts—think Raising Arizona or O Brother, Where Art Thou?“), the Boston Globe (“striped prison pajamas that wouldn’t be out of place in a road-show revival of O Brother, Where Art Thou?“), and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (“feels like Ocean’s Eleven meets O Brother, Where Art Thou?“), among many more. I guess see Raising Arizona, too.