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5 Against the House (1955)

Four vets attending college on the GI Bill and a cabaret singer try to rob a Reno Casino and pull off the perfect crime.



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Complete credited cast:
Al Mercer
Kay Greylek
Alvy Moore ...
Eric Berg
Jack Dimond ...
Francis Spiegelbauer


Four college buddies enjoy a night at a Reno casino and overhear a cop saying that robbing the casino "cannot be done." That gets the brainiest rich kid among them thinking up a plan for the perfect robbery. He convinces the others to join in when they hear that it will only be a college hoax, his plan being to let the police know where the money is afterwards. The thing is, one of his friends has a head injury from the war, and has no intention of returning a dime. Written by Rone Barton Lokarr <sandbox2@ix.netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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Release Date:

13 June 1955 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Five Against the House  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Kerwin Mathews was the youngest of the four college buddies by several years, being born in 1926; the others were born in 1921 or 1922. See more »


En route to Reno while riding in house trailer, thieves put on gloves and begin wiping down interior so their fingerprints can't be traced, but in following scenes, before they've reached destination, are no longer wearing gloves and are touching everything. See more »


Brick: I would like to make one of my deathless remarks now. There may be some things better than sex, some worse, but there's nothing quite like it.
Roy: That was kind of a deathless remark at that.
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Referenced in The Graduate (1967) See more »


Loyal Sons of Leighton
Written by Sammy Cahn and Saul Chaplin
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User Reviews

Great moments but lots of awkward filler...but some cool early Nevada gambling!
3 August 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

5 Against the House (1955)

Let's try to give this the best angle: the last half hour is terrific.

Before that is a lot of off and on development. The four hapless, likable college chaps are a kind of wobbly precursor to the "Ocean's Eleven," the 1960 casino classic (also a bit wobbly, actually, if you watch it again, but still a classic). The casino where this one begins is a vintage gem, an old style, small town joint (Reno, in 1955, was a small city), with guns on the wall and general lack of swank. It's great. And there's Kim Novak, not for her appearance or her singing (both were soon to be talked about), but simply for her screen presence, her higher level of professionalism. And she sings to some smooth easy band music. Novak was almost unknown--she had appeared in a sleeper noir called "Pushover" the previous year, but it was later in 1955 she starred in her breakout films, "Pal Joey" and "The Man with the Golden Arm". Finally, among the four lead males, Brian Keith, mostly known for decades of television work, is a surprisingly powerful figure, making the most of what he has to work with.

That's the extent of it, and Novak can't hold up the whole movie (especially all the parts she's not in--her role is relatively small). The chummy joking between the boys is weak stuff, including the college scenes, but these are meant to tap into the growing collegiate population (a full decade after WWII, college was becoming a far more normal step after high school). The initial crime incident with its interaction with the cops is patently unconvincing. And then there is the way the movie is patched together in separate segments. The first, fun road trip suddenly turns into a series of unexplained romances, which leads to the main plot again.

Why is this considered a film noir? Well, it actually has one key element, the soldier returned from war trying to cope with American mainstream life, only now the war is the Korean War, which changes both the romance and depth of the situation, at least historically. And there is, eventually, a full blown criminal aspect. In fact, the last half hour is tightly made, and if the gimmick is a bit of a stretch, it's all well done, and even if you don't like the movie overall, you'll really find the ending has a great feel to it, with lots of great night stuff. Reno back then was a neon wonderland, very cool!

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