6.9/10
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Split Second (1953)

Two escaped killers take hostages and hide in a Nevada mining ghost town knowing that an atom bomb is scheduled to be tested there the next morning.

Director:

Dick Powell

Writers:

William Bowers (screen play), Irving Wallace (screen play) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Stephen McNally ... Sam Hurley
Alexis Smith ... Kay Garven
Jan Sterling ... Dorothy 'Dottie' Vail
Keith Andes ... Larry Fleming
Arthur Hunnicutt ... Asa Tremaine
Paul Kelly ... Bart Moore
Robert Paige ... Arthur Ashton
Richard Egan ... Dr. Neal Garven
Frank DeKova ... Dummy (as Frank de Kova)
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Storyline

Sam Hurley, "Nation's No. 1 killer" with a cold contempt for "heroes," escapes prison with two companions and takes a mixed bag of hostages to Nevada ghost town Lost Hope City. He knows they won't be found there because an atom-bomb test is planned for next morning! Relationships shift and tension builds as Hurley keeps the others in suspense as to whether he will let them escape before bomb time. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Six people face-to-face with utter destruction! Doctor... convict... hard-boiled reporter... and two "nice" women... who fought over a killer's brutal kisses! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 May 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Split Second See more »

Filming Locations:

Mojave Desert, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The escaped convict Bart Moore is played by Paul Kelly who himself spent 25 months during the late 1920s in California's San Quentin State Prison. He was convicted of manslaughter for the beating death of actor Ray Raymond, the first husband of actress Dorothy Mackaye, who was having an affair with Kelly and would later marry him. Kelly's next film after this one was Duffy of San Quentin (1954) where he plays the title role - the warden of the prison where he himself did time. See more »

Goofs

The woodie station wagon driven by Sam Hurley has a desert water bag on the front bumper. The bag is missing in the exterior shot of the car just after Larry Fleming informs Hurley about the atom bomb test. In the next shot the bag is back on the bumper. See more »

Quotes

Sam Hurley: You ever been locked up?
Kay Garven: Not the way you mean.
Sam Hurley: I don't care what way it is. Some people can stand it and some people can't. The ones who can't would kill themselves and anybody else just to get out for five minutes.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Skullduggery (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

 
tense drama about escaped prisoners and their hostages
8 July 2006 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Dick Powell directed "Split Second," a B movie starring Stephen McNally, Jan Sterling, Alexis Smith, Richard Egan, and Keith Andes, about prisoners and their hostages at an atomic test site. McNally, meaner than dirt, escapes from prison with two cronies, one of whom has been badly wounded. At a gas station, they carjack Alexis Smith and her boyfriend. Before long, they have four hostages: Keith Andes, who plays a reporter, and Jan Sterling, who hitched a ride with him. They all wind up on an atomic bomb test site, and there's a test set for the next day. Since Smith's husband is a doctor, McNally calls him and threatens him with Smith's life so he will come and save the wounded escapee.

Seen with modern eyes, the friendship between McNally and his injured pal is something to behold. McNally is a cruel tough guy who becomes gentle when speaking to his friend, and he's determined not to leave him behind. Hmm...Smith plays a desperate, selfish society woman who will do anything - underline anything - to get McNally to take her along when he leaves, and in fact, they have a protracted time together in another room. She's a real piece of work. Richard Egan is her husband, who arrives to help the wounded prisoner.

Keith Andes was a handsome man whose major career was in television, and his beautiful singing voice and masculine presence brought him Broadway success as well, particularly costarring with Lucille Ball in "Wildcat." He does a good job here, as does Jan Sterling - they are two people caught in bad circumstances who happen to fall in love along the way. McNally is as nasty as they come - another fine performance of a low-life.

Dick Powell's direction has a sure hand, and the tension mounts as the film continues. A very good B movie, but not really noir as has been suggested.


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