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Roy Del Ruth
Yesterday Jim Molner was an ordinary guy. Today he's a desperate man, frantically trying to save himself and his family, held hostage by a demented terrorist who's demanding $500,000 not to detonate a bomb he's planted on a domestic airliner. Written by
Although the movie is set in New York and uses some New York area locations, the entire sequence in which Joan Molner picks up the ransom money at a bank, works her way through the building across the street, and drives away in a car parked in the alley behind that building, is filmed in downtown Los Angeles, in and around the Farmers and Merchants Bank at 401 S. Main Street. See more »
When Joan exits the bank, the camera pans up to a building with large corner windows and the blinds are down. But, in the next shot, Paul is looking down from a corner window and the blind is up. See more »
One look at a lustful Neville Brand (Steve) in heat darn near sent me under the bed. He's high on Bennies and it's a cowering Joan (Stevens) who's going to pay, except maybe she's got a surprise for the plug-ugly thug. In a movie filled with tense situations, this may be the scariest. Anyway, if it's not a woman menaced by a nutcase, it's Joan driving in traffic to meet a deadline, or her hubby (Mason) clambering around an elevator shaft, or both Dad and Mom keeping a nasty extortion gang from taking their toddler. If anything, there may be too many of these sweaty palms to keep up the effect. Whatever the case, this may be first film of the '50's to utter the word 'rape'.
The plot's a version of a '50's favorite, the home invasion, where an unwary American family is suddenly under attack inside the apparent safety of the home. It's also likely a reflection for the movies of a growing suburban audience. Here the invasion is part of a complex plan to extort money from an airline under threat of an airliner bomb. Of course, that brings in the feds and a lot of police procedure, while we hang in there with the little family under siege.
It's an unusually fine cast, with Brand as the standout, at least in my little book. Also, check out the fetching Angie Dickinson as a sadistic gang mollreal casting against type. There's also the tragic Inger Stevens showing her fine acting chops, along with a rather restrained Rod Steiger as the gang mastermind. It's all put together by the Stones, husband and wife, noted for their documentary style and dedication to location filming, from which the story gains helpful credibility.
All in all, the movie's a 90-minute exercise in relentless tension that seems ironically topical, given how thorough bomb detection is now fifty-years later.
(In passingI expect the movie's premise was inspired by the real life case of John Gilbert Graham. In 1955, he blew up an airliner over Colorado for insurance money on his mother, of all people, killing 44 passengers in the process. Needless to say for the law and order 1950's, he was swiftly executed. But perhaps most interesting for our day is that there was no federal law at the time covering bombs aboard airlinersapparently the possibility seemed too remote! As a result, Graham was tried and convicted under a different statute. Yes indeed, how times have changed.)
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