The Big Heist

Not to be confused with Heist (film) or The Heist (2001 film).
The Big Heist
Genre Docudrama
Based on The Heist
by Ernest Volkman
John Cummings
Screenplay by Jere Cunningham
Gary Hoffman
Directed by Robert Markowitz
Starring Donald Sutherland
John Heard
Jamie Harris
Janet Kidder
Theme music composer Lou Pomanti
Country of origin Canada
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Robert Markowitz
Mark Winemaker
Cinematography Rudolf Blahacek
Editor(s) David Beatty
Running time 92 min
Production company(s) Alliance Atlantis
A&E Network
Gary Hoffman Prod.
Original network A&E Network
Original release
  • June 10, 2001 (2001-06-10) (US)

The Big Heist is a Canadian-American TV movie which first aired in 2001, on the A&E Television Networks.

Based on the 1986 book The Heist: How a Gang Stole $8,000,000 at Kennedy Airport and Lived to Regret It,[1] the film tells the story about the 1978 Lufthansa Heist. The heist was also the subject of the much better-known 1990 film Goodfellas, directed by Martin Scorsese, and of the 1991 made-for-television film, The 10 Million Dollar Getaway.[2]

Main cast

Historical Context

Although the movie correctly depicts the Lufthansa Heist, showing Jimmy Burke as the leader of a crew linked to Paulie Vario, the crew wasn't part of the Gambino family as depicted, but rather was a large part of the Lucchese crime family, and the robbery brought a large quantity of funding for Tony Corallo.

Although Burke did have connections with John Gotti, Gotti was never involved with the Lufthansa Heist nor did he want to be a part of it. According to a rumour, on an FBI wire tap from the 1980s years after the original heist, Gotti was heard to say to underboss and his capo Aniello Dellacroce: "I didn't want any part of that shit that Burke and those other fucks pulled. Only micks would do something crazy like this. Micks are fucking crazy; end of fucking statement". It was also alleged by Hill, in Hill's book The Lufthansa Heist that John Gotti personally killed Tommy DeSimone, a member of the actual stick-up crew.[3] In another mistake film makes, Henry Hill is shown in one scene as having fallen asleep alongside a male and female prostitute, after having used a large quantity of cocaine. This implied bisexuality of Hill's was a falsehood. Hill was happily married (although he'd had two different affairs - both with women), and if the accusations had been true it would have been Jimmy Burke's duty to have killed Hill; homosexual acts were seen as going against the mob's rules.[4]


  1. Volkman, Ernest & Cummings, John (October 1986). The Heist: How a Gang Stole $8,000,000 at Kennedy Airport and Lived to Regret It (1st; Hardcover ed.). Franklin Watts. ISBN 978-0531150245.
  2. "Movies: The 10 Million Dollar Getaway". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 December 2012.
  3. Simon, Daniel & Hill, Henry (Aug 1, 2015). The Lufthansa Heist (1st ed.). Rowman & Little head. ISBN 9781493018963.
  4. Younge, Gary (May 1, 2003). "Mob Boss Rubbed Out For 'Being Gay'". The Guardian. New York.

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