Wolfish Fun & Games With This Nifty Little, Low-Budget Heist Caper!
27 December 2007
Warning: Spoilers
If Quentin Tarantino has not seen "The Day of the Wolves," then he ought to watch it. This ranks as a low-budget but above average heist caper that takes place in a small, modern-day Arizona town when a gang of thieves strike without warning and rob the banks, grocery stores, and manufacturing plants of all their cash. The mastermind behind this heist is a meticulous planner known only as Number 1 (Jan Murray of "Tarzan and the Great River") who assembles a team of six crackerjack thieves, including himself. Before they convene at a desert hideout, he orders each man culivate a beard, and he furnishes them with specific instructions. Once they arrive at the hide-out, they discard their clothing and put on jump-suits and gloves. He designates each individual by a numeral, and then he outlines his audacious plan to steal over a million dollars in dough from a small town. Number One has everything laid out to the nth degree. He trains his crew and has them drill on a number of torn-up buildings that simulate the real-life setting. None of the guys are happy about the airtight security precautions, but Number One rules them with an iron hand. Each of them stands to earn at least $50-thousand dollars. Not only have they never met, but they are also prohibited from using their actual names. They are told that this is largely for their benefit. Number One blindfolded them before he brought them to their hide-out and he does the same when they leave.

Meanwhile, Police Chief Pete Anderson (stocky Richard Egan of "The 300 Spartans") pulls over a couple of kids who have been joyriding recklessly around town in a dune buggy. The irate driver turns out to be the son of an influential town council member, and he complains to his father. The mayor convenes the council, and they vote to fire Anderson. Anderson's deputy Hank (John Lupton of "Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter") confides in his ex-boss that he doesn't think he has what it takes to be police chief. Anderson advises Hank to simmer down because what kind of catastrophic crime could occur in a town with fewer than 8-thousand people. Just as Hank is settling into his new position, the thieves appear like a well-oiled machine and lock up Hank and his two deputies. The thieves learn about Anderson's resignation, but they aren't prepared for it when the ex-chief grabs a shotgun and a fistful of shells and lets the lead fly.

Phillipine-born writer & director Ferde Grofe, Jr., doesn't wear out his welcome with this trim 90 heist caper. Everything is basically cut and dried. The major complication here that the villains did not count on was Pete Anderson's courageous act of storming streets with a shotgun to thwart their raid. Rick Jason of "Combat" fame plays henchman Number Six. Anderson drops him and another thieve with his accurate shooting. Grofe knows when to cut away from the authorities back to the criminals. The catch here is that this thriller was produced after the Production Code Administration was abolished, so the bad guys get to carry off their loot—those that is who survive Anderson's target practice with them. There is nothing pretentious here, and this movie may even be one of the earliest where the villains wanted to impose more than the usual number of safety precautions for not getting caught. The character of Police Chief Peter Anderson owes a lot to the Gary Cooper's Will Kane, town marshal in the western classic "High Noon." Anderson has nothing but contempt for the town after the raid, and he refuses to take back his badge when they come crawling to him. The Jan Murray mastermind does a pretty thorough job of setting up the robbery. Character actor Percy Helton of "The Sons of Katie Elder" has an amusing scene as a farmer.
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