Odds Against Tomorrow
Directed by Robert Wise
Written by Abraham Polonsky (fronted by John O. Killens) and Nelson Gidding from a novel by
William P. McGivern
Lorry: Aah… what kind of a fortune?
Earl Slater: Just one of those… fortune fortunes.
I was thrilled to discover a really excellent film noir so late in the cycle.
Dave Burke (Ed Begley) was a 30-year police officer who left a trail of scandal behind him. He is currently living in a run-down apartment with his dog. Dave has big dreams and is looking for the muscle and smarts to make them come true. Unfortunately, he turns to a couple of guys who, while a bit younger, are also at the ends of the their respective ropes.
Earl Slater (Robert Ryan) is a violent ex-con. He is trying to make a new life with Lorry (Shelley Winters). The couple love each other deeply despite the differences in their ages. Lorry brings in enough money to support them both but Earl cannot be happy without money of his own.
Johnny Ingram (Harry Belafonte) is a club singer but seems to spend most of his time at race tracks. He is now $7,500 in debt to a bunch of gangsters. On their last collection attempt he made the mistake of threatening them with a gun and their patience is at an end. The situation is complicated by the fact that Earl is a raging bigot and Johnny is black.
Dave’s foolproof plan involves knocking over a bank at closing time. It seems to be a cinch since the bank is occupied only by one elderly guard and a small group of middle-aged cashiers counting out money for pay packets. We find out all the ways Dave’s plan can go wrong en route to an explosive ending. With Gloria Grahame as a seductive neighbor.
I loved this one! Ryan and Begley are fantastic in their parts. The dialogue is spot on and Wise creates an atmosphere rich with decay and despair. The heist is well done. The only thing I can really fault is the ending which seemed a bit heavy-handed in terms of a “mutually assured destruction” message. Still highly recommended.