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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>
Robert Wise's Odds Against Tomorrow grinds along to an inevitable conclusion, but offers a great performance by Ed Begley as Dave Burke, an ageing ex con looking to set up one last job. Filmed in black and white in winter in New York (both the city and a small-town upstate venue where the bank is) it has a drabness that permeates the whole film. Robert Ryan plays racist small-timer Earle Slater, who must team up with Johnny Ingram (Harry Belafonte) a jazz singer/vibraphonist who owes gambling debts to mobster Bacco played by Will Kuluva. Shelley Winters plays Slater's girlfriend Lorrie, a lonely woman with a steady job trying to buy his affection. Their relationship is based more on mutual need than love, her for sex and him for the money and company. Begley as Dave Burke must referee between his two cohorts. The racial tension between Slater and Ingram is carried to the extreme, and in the end it is what does in the heist. The subdued jazzy musical score combined with the bleak photography make this one moody movie. While the ending for Begley is pure drama, for Ryan and Belafonte it is too ironic for its own good, a clear example of the so-called message interfering with the plot, or maybe the message was the plot.
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