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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr

Snake Plissken Chronicles: The Bank Robbery The Snake Plissken Chronicles
"The Bank Robbery"
Deleted scene from the beginning of Escape from New York
Written by John Carpenter and Nick Castle
Directed by John Carpenter
Originally filmed in 1980
Released as a deleted scene bonus feature on the Special Edition DVD Collector's Set in 2003


Former U.S. war hero turned criminal Snake Plissken robs the Bank of the United States.


Watch "The Bank Robbery" deleted scene at YouTube


Notes from the Snake Plissken chronology


This story takes place on October 21, 1997 immediately before the events of Escape from New York. (The year is given in Escape from New York, and the novelization reveals the full date of the bank heist.) This would place it on a Tuesday according to the calendar.


Characters appearing or mentioned in this episode


Snake Plissken

Bill Taylor

George Moropy (novelization, mentioned only)

Lynda Millford (novelization, mentioned only)

Captain Berrigan (novelization, flashback)


Didja Know?


I have chosen to title this episode "The Bank Robbery" because John Carpenter refers to the sequence by that name in his "Message from John Carpenter" on the inner flap that covers the bonus features disk on the Special Edition DVD Collector's Set.


"The Bank Robbery" is an ~9.5-minute sequence shot for Escape from New York which was removed from the film after the filmmakers found that test audiences were confused by the sequence. In Carpenter's audio commentary for the deleted scene, he says he has also come to realize the sequence was never needed to set up Snake's pending incarceration on Manhattan Island. Still, the film does have mention of the fact that former war hero Snake has become a notorious criminal, finally captured during a bank robbery, so it seems reasonable to include this deleted bank robbery footage as an actual incident in the chronicles of Snake Plissken.


The music for this sequence was newly-written by John Carpenter for the DVD because it was never scored after being cut from the original test screening in 1980. 


Didja Notice?


An announcement over the bank's P.A. system reveals that the bank Snake has robbed is the Bank of the United States. This is a fictitious bank. Escape from New York implies that it is a government-run bank rather than a commercial one. The novelization of Escape from New York reveals that this particular branch of the Bank of the United States is the Colorado Federal Reserve.


The female voice on the bank's P.A. system is provided by actress Jamie Lee Curtis, who previously worked with John Carpenter on Halloween.


The back of Snake's coverall at the bank and the bag he carries has the logo of Colorado Solar printed on it. Presumably, this is a fictitious solar power company.


The novelization reveals that the device Snake uses to open the electronic door at 3:38 on the DVD is called a Slotprick.


As Snake is making his way out of the bank building, an announcement suddenly comes on over the P.A. system that there is a bank robbery in progress. It's not revealed how bank security realized the place was being robbed. It's also not revealed how Snake got a hold of the credit cards (the loot) in the bag; did he have to interact with or kill anybody to get it?


At 4:49 on the DVD, the eagle head emblem of the United States Police Force can be seen on a phone unit next to the turnstiles as Snake flees. The emblem is also seen on one of the turnstiles and inside the subway car Snake and his partner ride in and on the stolen credit cards; the USPF seems to be an ubiquitous presence in this world.


In Carpenter's audio commentary for the deleted scene, he says the subway scenes were shot at the Peachtree Plaza station in Atlanta, Georgia. The novelization states that Snake traveled to Atlanta on the subway after the bank robbery to meet Taylor, then the two of them doubled back west to throw the police off their scent. A poster for Atlanta can be next to Snake's seat on the subway car. Another poster for Bowling Green (probably Bowling Green, KY) is seen behind Taylor's seat.


Snake's partner in the heist is named Taylor. The novelization reveals Taylor's first name as Bill.


Notice that Taylor walks with a limp. The novelization indicates (page 11) that Taylor's knee had been shattered during a crash landing in Helsinki in the escape from Leningrad.


Once on the subway, Snake asks Taylor if they're wired into Seattle and Taylor responds he can't tell, "Maybe Seattle. Maybe San Francisco. Maybe Barstow." They finally arrive in San Francisco. These are cities separated by hundreds of miles; the implication is that the subway system runs all over the country, a much more complex and wide-ranging system than exists in the real world.


At 6:23 on the DVD, notice that the stolen credit cards do not appear to have magnetic stripes (or any printing at all!) on the back of them.


Surprisingly, Snake tells Taylor he trusts him to split up the credit cards evenly. Snake is not depicted as a particularly trusting person in his other adventures with other individuals. Snake also gets himself caught by the U.S. Police Force in an attempt to save Taylor when they get to San Francisco.


Some maps on the walls of the subway car at 7:15 on the DVD appear to show the subway routes and regions across the country.


The U.S. police appear to shoot Taylor for no good reason. He wasn't fleeing at the moment and did not have a weapon in his hand.


According to the novelization, the police are carrying AR-15s; the AR-15 is a semi-automatic assault rifle (what the U.S. military calls an M16), and that does appear to be the weapon seen here.


Escape from New York novel Notes from the novelization of Escape from New York by Mike McQuay
Chapters 1-2 cover the events of "The Bank Robbery"

(The page numbers come from the 2nd printing, paperback edition, published July 1981)


Notice that the cover of this book mistakenly depicts Snake with his eye patch over his right eye instead of his left! It seems the image was flipped.


Chapter 1:


Page 1 reveals that nerve gas occasionally dips down from the sky to touch everyone's lives. This may be due to the war the President is trying to end in Escape from New York.


Page 1 reveals that Snake has constant pain from his bad eye under the eye patch. Page 11 indicates that the eye was damaged by nerve gas due to a cracked goggle during the Leningrad mission.


Feeling the pressure of making his escape from the bank, page 3 has Snake reflecting on how Uncle taught him about pressure at Leningrad. "Uncle" is presumably a reference to Uncle Sam, a common personification of the United States government. Escape from New York gives a bit more information about Snake's experience in Leningrad as part of the U.S. military. At the time Escape from New York was written, Leningrad was the second largest city in Russia; in the real world the city's name was changed back to it's original name of Saint Petersburg in 1991. Obviously, Snake Plissken's Earth took quite a different path from probably 1980 onward.


On page 4, Snake has to run through a hallway that begins to fill with nerve gas as he dashes through the bank building; this does not occur in filmed version.


On page 5, Snake emerges onto the bank rooftop during the day (about 3:35 p.m. on page 1); in the filmed version, it is dusk. Page 5 also describes the heat of the Colorado desert; this presumably refers to desert in the state of Colorado and not the Colorado Desert of southern California.


Snake thinks of the police force as "blackbellies" on page 5, presumably for their black uniforms.


Snake has to flee from police who come up to the rooftop in the elevator; this is not seen in the filmed version.


The subway trains are referred to as hummers.


On page 6, Snake books passage on a hummer to Eugene, Oregon with one of the stolen credit cards in hopes of fooling the police into thinking he went there instead of Atlanta. Page 7 states the hummer to Eugene also has stops in Portland and Salem, two other cities in Oregon.


Page 6 reveals that the war is still being fought heavily in the western U.S. and that the western badlands are a good place for Snake and Taylor to hide out.


Chapter 2:


Chapter 2 gives a few details of Snake Plissken's past. He picked up the nickname Snake (or "the Snake") in the service because he had a knack for slithering out of trouble and nobody left alive now knows his real first name. He had been a college boy recruited by the military (page 65 reveals it was the Army), commissioned as a lieutenant, and sent to the Russian front. The war had started slowly in the Middle East and a conference in Stockholm prevented the use of nuclear weapons, but chemical ones were used instead, contaminating Earth's atmosphere and slowly poisoning the planet's entire population and driving people crazy before it killed them. Snake was the commander of a search and destroy squad with the best success record in the Russian campaign. Taylor served under him as a sergeant. Their squad was sent into Leningrad in Gulffire gliders to rescue a captured Intelligence officer as part of the "Leningrad Ruse". During the operation, the entire squad was killed except for Snake and Taylor, who later learned that the whole thing was a ruse; the so-called Intelligence officer was deliberately planted to deliver false information to the enemy, and the trick didn't even work. Snake felt betrayed and was never the same again.


The Gulffire glider is a fictitious aircraft.


Pages 9-10 describe Snake's squad being given the Leningrad mission by a Captain Berrigan in Helsinki.


As described on page 10, Leningrad/St. Petersburg lies on the Baltic Sea.


On page 10, "Ruskie" is a slang term for "Russian".


On page 13, Taylor names a few of the stolen credit cards as being for the U.S. National Bank, U.S. Port Authority, and the U.S. Tobacco Reserve. These are all largely fictitious entities; even U.S. port authorities are essentially run by a commission from the local region, not a national bureau.


On page 14, Snake thinks of the U.S. Police as "Kevlarred killers, crazies with badges." Kevlar is a real world type of bulletproof body armor, developed in 1965 by the DuPont corporation.


Page 15 states that Snake goes back to help Taylor, basically giving up his chance to escape with the loot, because Taylor was the last friend he had left, "...everyone else who knew Snake Plissken as a real human being...all dead."


As Taylor dies, he takes "a good chunk of Snake Plissken with him."


Memorable Dialog

banking hours are over.wav
the Bank of the United States.wav
I trust ya.wav
can't spend it in Barstow.wav


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