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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>
In his youth, and in particular his heyday over at MGM, Mickey Rooney would practically do cartwheels through his roles - he was that high energy. However, he was capable of something more than playing the energetic optimistic young man of pre-war America, and this film and 1950's Quicksand are probably the best examples of what that something was.
Here he plays auto mechanic Eddie Shannon that also does some race car driving. A mob of thieves take note of his talent behind the wheel at the race track and the gang leader's girl (Dianne Foster as Barbara) flirts with Eddie and gets him to believe that she loves him. Then the thieves lower the boom on him - they proposition him to drive their getaway car during a bank robbery in return for 15000 dollars. The reason that Eddie is so needed is that the road between the bank and the main highway past the point where any road blocks would be requires fast driving over what amounts to unpaved desert terrain. Eddie's an honest guy, willing to wait and work for the things he wants, but Barbara is holding out the need for this quick money as a condition of their relationship continuing, so he gives in and agrees to the robbery plan. To him, Barbara is his treasure, not any amount of money that he could land. Little does he know she's fool's gold.
Rooney is convincing as the little guy who takes it on the chin from a verbally abusive coworker at the garage who - like all bullies - doesn't seem to realize that high school is at least ten years behind him. Without saying much you can tell Rooney's character Eddie is a guy that has come to have low expectations of life, not so much abused as he is ignored and invisible to the opposite sex, and is surprised when a beautiful girl takes notice of him. Things are getting out of hand for Barbara too, as she feels deep remorse for using Eddie. Kudos also go to Kevin McCarthy and Jack Kelly as the two thieves. McCarthy's character has a very thin veneer of charm painted over what appears to be a soul of pure evil. When he kisses a rather apathetic Barbara and doesn't like her lack of enthusiasm, he warns her to never kiss him like that again in a way that will give you goosebumps. Jack Kelly's character is more of an all out wild man. You can just tell that he considers violence the most amusing pastime on earth.
I'd recommend this one for Rooney's performance, but I'd downgrade this one just a little bit on lost opportunities for what could have been some fine action shots during the bank robbery scene and the getaway thereafter.
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