Kick-Back Friday: #165
Odds Against Tomorrow (1959): Film noir meets the civil-rights movement.
Harry Belfonte’s production company, HarBel, produced this New York-based story of a has-been cop (the remarkable Ed Begley), a racist ex-con (the perpetually snarly Robert Ryan), and a musician and inveterate gambler (the uber-cool Harry Belafonte).* To land an “easy” bank score, Begley’s character recruits the racist and the musician, both of whom spend arguably too much time resisting the idea of working together. But to noone’s surprise, dire times make for strange partnerships.
The movie, directed by Robert Wise, really shines, however, during the last act, when the bank heist goes down. Wise’s editing skills at this point in the story are nonpareil, and a lingering piece of racist behavior, perpetrated by Ryan’s character, is cleverly introduced to heighten the tension and threaten the getaway. Although the film’s conclusion is ridiculously heavy handed by today’s standards, any criticism of thought-provoking elements should really be dispensed according to the time of production.
* Oh yeah, and the movie also features Shelley Winters in an otherwise thankless role.
Poster image of Odds Against Tomorrow from Wikipedia and reproduced under fair use law.