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...
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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 film is best remembered for the fact that it stars country legend Johnny Cash is his first film role. This actually lowered my expectations for the film, as I'm not a massive fan of Cash and films that go down in history for the casting of a non-actor are often not very good...but this film has far more going for it than it's lead actor, and overall I've got to say that it's criminal that this hasn't won itself a more esteemed place in cinema history. It's clear that the film was shot on a very low budget as it features a very grainy black and white picture, a small central cast and some suspect acting from all corners; but all this stuff doesn't matter, as the screenplay is well written and there's a lot of fun to be had with this film. The plot follows a couple of guys who think they've discovered the perfect get rich quick scheme. One of them pretends to be a salesman in order to get into the house of the president of the women's association, while the other one pretends to be a customer at her husband's bank. After explaining the situation to her husband, they offer him a trade; his money or his wife.
Overall, it has to be said that this little thriller isn't very original as there have been a lot of films in this same vein; but Bill Karn's film approaches it's subject with a fresh view, and the way that the director continually ensures the tone is always bleak provides a major highlight. It's easy to believe that the central character is in danger through Cash's loose cannon performance, and the way that the action focuses on two central locations; the family home and the bank, ensures that the plot always takes centre stage, and it is made interesting through its memorable cast of characters. Even though Cash wasn't predominantly an actor, his performance is really good and the way that the director lets him play his guitar makes best use of him. And on a personal note, I think it's good of Cash to put himself at risk to play a sadistic maniacal character. The rest of the support cast play second fiddle to the musical genius, but each one gives a good turn and this ensures that the film is elevated above its low budget thriller status. It all boils down to an exciting and satisfying climax that both deals fitting comeuppance, and rounds it all off nicely. Overall, this film is well worth tracking down and comes highly recommended!
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