A big-city reporter between jobs is traveling with his wife through a small Ozarks town and gets a lead on a bank robbery. He tracks down the brutal gang that committed the robbery, only to... See full summary »
A big-city reporter between jobs is traveling with his wife through a small Ozarks town and gets a lead on a bank robbery. He tracks down the brutal gang that committed the robbery, only to discover that they are something of a source of pride to the locals. His hopes of getting back into the big time with this story are dashed when his "interview" with the gang leader goes awry and he and his wife find themselves hostages. Written by
Late fifties Metro addition to the film noir genre, Ozarks-style, featuring Leslie Nielsen. A comedy, you say,--perish the thought! Nielsen was in his 'next-Glenn Ford' phase, and plays it straight down the line, no chaser, no jokes, and he's very good. This is an exceedingly well-crafted, offbeat little thriller about a big city reporter in over his head as he tracks down a legendary outlaw in an extremely backward, backwoods community. The sense of isolation is very well built up, as is the cluelessness of the man and his wife, who simply don't know what to do, or even how to talk to these people. Among the denizens of the backwoods are such choice Hollywood masters of the cretinous as Claude Akins and James Best. The po-faced Paul Richards plays an unhinged character; a nice piece of offbeat casting, this. Robert Wilkie manages to be both warm and frightening as the honcho bad guy. What makes the film work is its marvelous and all-pervading sense of not only the unknown but the unknowable, as we learn just how naive city folks can be when out of their element. It is literally a night movie, thus there is no question about it being film noir. Strangeness lurks everywhere on these back roads, where one might expect Robert Mitchum to turn up, or maybe Bonnie and Clyde, or maybe Jeff Dahmer. One never can tell. You think rural communities are idyllic? Think again. The biggest surprise and most charming performance in the film by far is by Edward Andrews, who normally plays smarmy, scheming or mean-spirited white collar types, often with a comic touch, totally absent here. In Hot Summer Night he is the local sheriff, and he is salvation itself. The movie just goes to show, for the umpteenth time, how far creative people can go with seemingly routine material; how it can be exciting and shocking and even, in its presentation, new. It also shows how fun it can be to see stereotypes played with, altered, turned upside down and inside out, both as to casting, locale and viewer expectation.
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