This exciting caper is film noir on the cusp of two decades. Shot at night in black and white and set to a gritty jazz track, it delves into the depths of human greed and self-destruction that laced the fifties crime melodrama with despair. But it also plays the odds on tomorrow by predicting the intensified brutality of the sixties films, and the socially conscious variants on the crime drama that the decade would produce-films about racial conflicts, psychopathic killers, etc. Robert Ryan, one of film noir’s dark giants, for better or for worse is often at his best when playing the bigot (as in Crossfire). Here, he is a southern drifter whose hatred of blacks is focused on his partner-in-crime, Harry Belafonte, a Harlem musician. Shelley Winters is in her element as Ryan’s girlfriend, but it is Gloria Grahame who culminates a decade of fatalistic femmes when she asks Ryan to excite her by describing what it’s like to kill a man. Correction: The screenplay for Odds Against Tomorrow was written by blacklisted writer Abraham Polonsky [uncredited] and Nelson Gidding. —BAM/PFA
One of the most successful directors of the 1960s, when he became an efficient maker of epic-length pictures, Robert Wise is one of Hollywood’s few popularly recognized filmmakers. He joined RKO in the 1930s as a cutter and eventually became one of the studio’s top editors, working in this capacity on classics such as The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), Citizen Kane (1941), and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). He became a director with help from producer Val Lewton, who assigned Wise to finish Curse of the Cat People (1944), a B-movie that had fallen behind schedule, and the resulting picture proved extremely haunting and enduring. Wise later directed The Body Snatcher (1945) for Lewton, but after the producer left RKO, he found himself locked into B-movies. His 1948 psychological Western Blood on The Moon, starring Robert Mitchum, and the acclaimed boxing drama The Set-Up (1949) were the only two important pictures that Wise got to do during his last four years at the studio. Wise… read more
No one plays 'nasty' quite like Robert Ryan and he's in his element in Wise's superlative crime drama. Begley plays an ex-cop with a grudge who plans a bank heist with Belafonte's black musician and Ryan's bigoted ex-con. With excellent supporting roles for Winters and Grahame, a script by the blacklisted Polonsky working under a pseudonym and a highly effective and atmospheric jazzy score, this is an absolute gem...
Also: Reitman’s Young Adult. Masters of Cinema’s Touch of Evil Blu-ray. Teaser for Miike’s Ai To Makoto.