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Dave Burke is looking to hire two men to assist him in a bank raid: Earle Slater, a white ex-convict, and Johnny Ingram, a black gambler. Both are reluctant; but Burke arranges for Ingram's creditors to put pressure on him, while Slater feels humiliated by his failure to provide for his girlfriend; they eventually accept. But Slater loathes and despises blacks, and the tensions in the gang rapidly mount. Written by
David Levene <D.S.Levene@durham.ac.uk>
This is one of my favourite American crime movies. It sits right in the middle between John Huston's "Asphalt Jungle" and William Friedkin's "The French Connection" probably the two all time best of the police/caper genre.
In "Asphalt Jungle", the suave Alonzo Emmerich says that crime is a left handed kind of human endeavour. And this describes exactly what the three guys in this movie are doing. There is even a scene that looks like a reference to that statement as Ed Begley's character is staring at a monument with the weird inscription to the effect that every man should do what his hands are capable of doing. Robert Ryan plays a kind of a brother of the Sterling Hayden character in "Asphalt Jungle", an embittered farmer's son from Kentucky who could not make it in this world, has no prospects and sees the bank robbery as his last chance. There is no doubt that Ryan was a far more talented actor than Hayden, he gives his character real depth, you almost feel sorry for him although that character is really disgusting.
"Odds against tomorrow" precedes "The French Connection" with its truly breathtaking documentary style photography, the use of music and sound effects to heighten the tension (the soundtrack is just terrific, Harry Belafontes talents were put to good use in a very sensible way) and in the way the characters are shown just waiting out in the cold.
It is really a film about men in winter, where there is no hope left. Great care was taken to make all the three main characters human beings with real feelings. In this aspect the ending really is disappointing it seems to belong to an other movie, its symbolism does not fit in at all and gives the aspect of racism an importance that in this story it does not really possess. The racism of the Ryan character seems like a pretext he was so miserable, he just needed somebody to hate, it could have been any particular group of living beings.
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