Barry Sulivan is a cynical gangster who controls the Neptune Beach waterfront. He runs a numbers racket with the local soda shop owner: the police are in his pocket and the local hoods are on his payroll.
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>
One of those easy robberies where you just go in and take the money
Harry Belafonte produced and starred in "Odds Against Tomorrow," a 1959 film also starring Robert Ryan, Ed Begley, Gloria Grahame, and Shelley Winters and directed by Robert Wise. It's a depressing story of a bunch of losers who team up for what is supposed to be an easy robbery. For all of them it represents a last chance.
A gritty, black and white film that takes place on lonely streets, barren roads, cheap apartments, and cheap night clubs, what makes it interesting is that at the end, there is very little dialogue and a big "Top of the world, ma," finish that is both splashy and ironic.
Other than that, it's routine stuff. Robert Ryan plays his usual cruel, deeply prejudiced wacko with an itchy trigger finger. Is it my imagination, or did his characters just get meaner as he aged? Other than John the Baptist, that is. Supposedly, he was a wonderful man - it's amazing that these roles didn't get to him after a while. The story goes that while he was at RKO, the scripts for the year would be delivered at the annual Christmas party. Ryan would take half and Mitchum the other half. Somehow Ryan always ended up with the monsters. Winters is his clinging, desperate wife - also nothing new there, and Grahame is the horny neighbor. Not exactly a departure.
Belafonte, a brilliant musical performer, gets to belt out a couple in the nightclub where his compulsive gambler character works. I have to agree with one of the comments - he's just too handsome and classy to be considered part of this bunch. If the character had been cast as a white man, would we have expected to see some hunk or a character actor? His performance is very good, however, as a man who believes it's a white man's world, and he's sick of playing by their rules.
Ed Begley is terrific as the seedy old man who puts the plan together but picks two people who are at terrible odds with one another. Which didn't give very good odds against tomorrow.
Worth seeing for the actors and the exciting ending.
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