Vicious gangster Vincent Canelli pulls off a daring prison escape just moments before going to the electric chair, taking with him Peter Manning - a bank robber and cop killer who was to ... See full summary »
Vicious gangster Vincent Canelli pulls off a daring prison escape just moments before going to the electric chair, taking with him Peter Manning - a bank robber and cop killer who was to die right after him. Taking several hostages along, they try to get their hands on the loot from Manning's robbery to finance their escape from the country. Written by
An interesting and surprisingly obscure prisoner-on-the-run crime drama, BLACK TUESDAY is perfectly suited for Late, Late Show viewing in the wee small hours of the morning, when much of the action takes place. Like KEY LARGO (also featuring Edward G. Robinson), THE DESPERATE HOURS and the PETRIFIED FOREST, the second half turns into a confined space stageplay. The large cast holed up in the even larger safehouse is game, however, and despite a few unintentionally funny and seemingly out of place romantic interludes, things otherwise generally remain taut. It's like old TV home week as no less than three players from the Desilu stage (Vic Perrin and William Schallert from Star Trek guest appearances, Peter Graves from Mission: Impossible right next door on the lot) get significant screen time. Also look for Russell (The Professor) Johnson in a minor part. Graves in particular has a much more emotive adult part than he customarily got (other than Stalag 17) and he goes for it with gusto, if not much panache. Still, Robinson is at his melodramatic "Where's your messiah now?" best here, blithely slapping broads, torturing gunshot victims and going out in a Little Caeseresque hail of bullets / blaze of glory.
Seasoned noir veteran Sydney (SIX BRIDGES TO CROSS, ROGUE COP, UNION STATION, THE HIGH WALL and most notably, THE BIG HEAT) Boehm's script is not brain surgery (the prison breakout is dazzlingly improbable) and is frankly a bit derivative of movies like Cagney's KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE and Bogey's HIGH SIERRA. Also, they obviously didn't spend much on production values. Still, there is no one more iconic in this kind of capo titti capi role than Edward G. Robinson and given the lack of exposure this movie has had in the last 40 years, seeing Robinson's performance is akin to unearthing buried noir treasure. Any fan of Edward G. should immediately seek out this elusive screener because his vicious performance is nothing short of breathtaking, and trumps any of the limitations of this movie.
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