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 <email@example.com>
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 »
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.
That was kind of a deathless remark at that.
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Offbeat heist movie not really Karlson's meat and potatoes
The boyish refulgence that brought him to movies over a decade earlier long since dimmed, Guy Madison has settled into William Holdenish good looks. Since Hollywood already had a Holden, and since Madison's acting skills were adequate at best, he no longer can hold the screen (this part came to him after a string of roles as Wild Bill Hickock). Luckily, Phil Karlson's 5 Against The House is an ensemble piece an offbeat heist movie.
Madison and Brian Keith are Korea veterans attending `Midwestern University' on the G.I. Bill; their buddies are wiseacre Alvy Moore and sobersides Kerwin Mathews. Mathews (whose faint accent stays a mystery) yearns to do something extraordinary to make him stand out, and dreams up a hare-brained scheme (no more than a prank, since he plans to give the money back) to rob a casino in Reno, Nevada. They're all in on the plan except Madison, who nonetheless joins them on the road west with his girl Kim Novak, to get married. When Madison tumbles to the set-up, he tries to stop it.
The fly in the ointment, alas, is Keith, who spent time in the psychiatric ward for shell shock. He takes the prank dead seriously and intimidates the others to go along with him. Tricked out in Wild-West outfits and false beards, and wheeling a jerry-rigged money cart with a tape recorder inside, they hit the casino....
Phil Karlson falls short of top form here. The college hijinks are not this director's usual meat and potatoes, so he takes a long time getting any rhythm going. Then the heist itself, and the tensions among the robbers, seem oddly defanged, at least for Karlson; he seems to have fallen into a character study rather than an action movie, and unsure how to play it. Novak croons a couple of songs, and nobody gets killed. That's well and good, but a far cry from 99 River Street, or Kansas City Confidential, or The Phenix City Story, hard-core Karlson all. 5 Against The House remains in a no-man's-land between film noir and the light-hearted caper movies, like Ocean's 11, that would usher in the 1960s.
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