A number of otherwise insignificant small-town stories erupt into drama when a gang of hoodlums decides to rob the local bank. A father looking for pride in his son's eyes, a timid clerk who is a peeping tom by night, a man striving to rewin his wife's love, an Amish farmer faced with viciousness, and a proper older woman turned thief, all find themselves entangled with the bank robbers as a peaceful weekend turns violent. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Violent Saturday" was not an outstanding movie, nor very original, but that is not to say that it had no merit. Richard Fleischer's direction goes much farther than skin-deep. From one angle, "Violent Saturday" is about a hold-up and the normal guy (Victor Mature) who tries to stop the criminals. That's fine, and there are some very exciting moments toward the end of the film. But another angle is more interesting: it's a study of what normal small-town-folks do in secret. Indeed, in comparison to the unscrupulous dealings of a voyeuristic bank manager, a larcenous librarian, and a trampy wife and her alcoholic husband, the sadistic bad guys (including a memorable Lee Marvin) seem less sinister. In its studies of the dynamics between husband and wife, parent and child, and its Everyman hero and hard-bitten villains, "Violent Saturday" is half a tribute to noir tradition, half a fifties family-drama. The mixture is sometimes uneasy. Particularly annoying are the conversations between doofy dad Mature and his cute little son who wishes his dad was more of a hero. But the drama between the weirder citizens of the little town is intriguing. A masterful use of the camera and Hugo Friedhofer's strident score are other assets. All in all, "Violent Saturday" is worth a look.
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