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Joseph H. Lewis
Dame May Whitty,
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Eddie Shannon is an undersized, sports-car mechanic who dreams of racing an expensive car in a European meet. He meets and falls in love with Barbara Mathews, and thinks she loves him. She introduces him to Steve Norris and Harold Baker, who ask him to drive the getaway car in a bank robbery they are planning. He refuses, but changes his mind after some gentle persuasion from Barbara. The job is pulled off and, following a wild getaway, Eddie learns that Barbara was just using him and that Steve and Harold have plans to kill him. Gritty retribution is just around the corner. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Richard Quine probably has his best "non comedy" film with this one, but maybe has to take the rap also for what's weak about this film. The opening car race and the key bank "race" are pretty blandly done as is any other action set piece in the movie. The opening scene is really poor, like something you'd see in a film made in the Early silent days. Badly matched rear projection, the camera angle is so wrong in the rear projection that is doesn't match the action of Rooney driving at all. The process work isn't bad, the footage shot is. The rest of the race material is also poor. And for a film about the ability to race, the fact that the racing is bad can't be overlooked. After this crappy beginning the excellent performances and dialog drive the film along perfectly. Most of the cast is perfect and the personal violence between characters is very strong. Rooney is very understated here--in many of his other adult work he'd tend to over act, not here though at all. It's an award worthy performance.
Just too bad that the action is treated like sloppy second unit work--some say (un)credited to Blake Edwards himself--but with Edwards interest in fast cars etc., hard to believe he'd shoot this stuff so badly. The ending, which also involves some action is perfunctorily done and the resolution too quick. Too bad because otherwise this would be a nearly perfect movie. Still if you get over, the opening especially, this is a must see.
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