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C. Aubrey Smith
Originally released in 1961 as Five Minutes to Live, this low-budget crime drama was later re-released as Door-to-Door Maniac. Fred narrates the film in flashback, detailing a suburban bank robbery that goes awry. In his simple plan, he hires a hard-up hood, Johnny Cabot to take the wife of the bank's vice president hostage. Cabot will hold her until he gets a call alerting him that Fred has been successful in getting ransom money. Cabot waits, and watches the Wilson house as the husband leaves for the bank and their young son heads off to school. Posing as a door-to-door guitar instructor, he forces his way into the house and takes Nancy Wilson hostage. At the bank, Fred talks his way into Ken Wilson's office, and presents his personal check for $70,000, intending that Wilson will withdraw the funds to cover the check as a ransom for his wife. He has Wilson call home to prove that Nancy is being held by the unstable Cabot, and gives Wilson 5 minutes to make his decision. If Fred ... Written by
This strange little B-movie was originally titled FIVE MINUTES TO LIVE, but was re-released in 1966 as DOOR-TO-DOOR MANIAC because Cash' star had risen considerably in those years. He stars as Johnny Cabot, a level-headed murderer who teams up with another con (Tayback) in a scheme to hold a bank president's wife hostage. But what they don't know is that the bank president is planning to run off to Las Vegas with his mistress and couldn't care less about his wife.
The production values are close to zero complete with bad direction, dragging scenes and an all out over-the-top music score, more reminiscent of your average bad '50s Sci-fi flick. Nevertheless, the film does have a certain suspense and the dialog is surprisingly snappy and tongue-in-cheek with some unexpected twists along the way. It's fascinating to see Johnny Cash in a dramatic role, although he is not much of an actor, but with this material and production values, I can hardly blame him. He has a natural charisma, but comes across as anxious, even when he's supposed to be relaxed, rolling with his eyes. He was probably coked out of his head. If you could call it a flaw, he never ceases to be Johnny Cash, even his character's first name is Johnny. On top of that, he always carries his guitar with him and belts out the song "Five Minutes to live" a couple of times. Obviously the makers wanted to cash in on Cash's presence by making his character even more Cash than he already is... sorry for the bad wordplay.
The transfer to the DVD didn't help much, but was probably the best copy they could find. It's all washed out, especially the lighter colours have washed out almost completely. The sound is OK and very loud. When I normally put the volume at, let's say, 5, with this film it was still hollering across the room at volume 2. Very strange, the loudest DVD I ever watched. I don't wanna end up defending this one, but for some reason I watched this with interest till the closing titles. If you already have a weakness for mediocre B-flics from the period and have an interest in Johnny Cash as well, mildly recommended. For others, it's probably of little interest.
Camera Obscura --- 6/10
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