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Dramas > Odds Against Tomorrow (Robert Wise)

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message 1: by Alex DeLarge (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments The great chameleon Robert Wise, a director whose contribution to cinema is (I believe) only now being appreciated; from film noir (THE SET UP) to horror (THE HAUNTING), Science Fiction (THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL, original, pa---lease!), feminist romance (EXECUTIVE SUITE), war (THE SAND PEBBLES), musical (WEST SIDE STORY & SOUND OF MUSIC)...I could go on forever! Here is a gem I unearthed one day on AMC and just had to own on disc.

ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW (Robert Wise, 1959, USA) Robert Wise delivers a taught crime thriller about three losers trying one last desperate bank robbery that will enable them to retire and give up their criminal ways. Wise films with his classic deep focus black & white style with low-angle shots and steady camera movements; no quick cut headache-inducing editing here! The story progresses chronologically as we glimpse the personal turmoil in Johnny (Harry Belafonte) and Earle’s (Robert Ryan) hard-luck lives. We develop sympathy for these two criminals even though we see them warts and all; it gets us closer because they are well defined and realistic people. Burke (Ed Begley) is the ringleader who plays mediator because Johnny and Earle just can’t get along…and herein lays the meaning of the film: Racism. The film works as a simple heist movie gone bad but that’s not its true purpose; this film explores society’s bleak hateful racist attitudes of the 1950s and their destructive effects, both psychologically and physically. The tragic ending brings equality to our anti-heroes and they have no one to blame but themselves. Robert Wise bookends the film with a strong wind blowing across a dirty puddle creating ripples and riptides much like the violent undercurrents tearing through America at the time. If our attitudes don’t change then the odds against tomorrow happening are not in our favor. And it’s still true today. (A)

message 2: by Daniel (new)

Daniel | 155 comments I admire Wise, and will be catching this in an upcoming showing on TCM. But I have to take issue that "Executive Suite" is primarily -- or even contains -- "feminist romance." The focus of the story is the state of affairs in the board room of a furniture company. It's a portrayal of the pitfalls and the glories of capitalism. The romance, if it can even be called that, seemed to me to be background noise.

Was that a typo, or can you make a case for it?

P.S. For people who haven't seen "Executive Suite" look up the cast. You won't believe all these people are in one film.

message 3: by Alex DeLarge (last edited Jan 16, 2009 03:57PM) (new)

Alex DeLarge | 851 comments Yes, I believe you're right. It's been a few years since I've seen this one but really liked it. I need to watch again and review:) And what a great cast!

I need to see CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE, one of his early uncredited works. As much as I love horror films, I can't believe that one has escaped me all these years. I also need to revisit Val Lewton's works.

message 4: by Phillip (new)

Phillip | 10281 comments curse of the cat people is good fun. i caught it several months ago.

i've seen quite a few of his films, but don't know this one. thanks for the fine reveiew and recommendation, alex!

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