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The Great Bank Heist

University of Houston Digital Library

Sound | 1953

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  •  The Great Bank Heist 
  •  Frontier Fiesta, University of Houston, Spring 1953 
  •  The outlaws gather outside of First National Bank 
  •  "Load your pistols, boys!" 
  •  "Put your hands up and nobody gets hurt!" 
  •  "The money or your life!" 
  •  In a firestorm of bullets, the outlaws make their escape 
  •  They ride for Fiesta City 
  •  THE END 
  •  Credits 
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University of Houston Libraries staff used footage from the school's 1953 Frontier Fiesta to create this short film in the style of a silent-era Western. Festival participants dressed as outlaws roam the festival grounds on campus and stage a holdup of a local bank. This film is part of TAMI's collection courtesy of Digital Services - Digital Library, University of Houston Libraries.

Frontier Fiesta, a three-day Western-themed variety event, is a longstanding tradition at the University of Houston. Beginning in 1939, the festival featured student-run variety acts and other performances. After a brief hiatus during World War II, Frontier Fiesta grew to huge popularity in the late 1940s and 50s. By 1953, the festival was attracting 200,000 people and drew national acts and celebrities such as James Garner and Humphrey Bogart. In 1958, LIFE Magazine famously dubbed Frontier Fiesta "the Greatest College Show on Earth" ([Frontier Fiesta at U of H http://www.uh.edu/fiesta/history.html]). The Fiesta had become such a tremendous focus of the students' time that in the fall of 1958, University President Clanton Williams mandated that students were only to spend a maximum of four weeks planning the event. Frontier Fiesta was discontinued shortly thereafter.

More than thirty years later, a group of U of H students and alumni revived the Frontier Fiesta tradition in 1991, once again creating a "Fiesta City" on campus every spring. The current festival is aimed at bringing University students and alumni together with the greater Houston community. It features a variety of events, including cook-offs, concerts, and carnival booths.