DVD region 2. Odeon.
1950 RKO production, one of director Richard Fleischer’s
earliest films, is a welcome release – whilst strictly a
B-movie, it is also a significant part of the film noir genre
and a pioneering heist film, threaded through with a gritty realism
and brutality that is unusual for the period.
Dave Purvis (William Talman) has planned an armoured car robbery,
and recruits down-on-his-luck Benny McBride (Douglas Fowley) as
his partner, alongside a couple of local villains. McBride is
struggling with his marriage to burlesque queen Yvonne LeDoux
(Adele Jergens), who is secretly having an affair with Purvis,
and hopes his cut from the robbery will help patch up their marriage,
but despite intricate planning, the robbery goes wrong when an
unexpected police car shows up and a gun battle ensues. Benny
is shot, and later murdered by Purvis when he tries to get medical
help. As the rest of the gang are captured or killed, Purvis and
LeDoux plan their getaway, but they are pursued by Lt Jim Cordell
(Charles McGraw), who is determined to bring him to justice.
Armored Car Robbery is as blunt as the title
suggests, packing plenty of action into a tight 65 minute running
time. The violence is pretty strong for the period – scenes
of Purvis beating up his partners or gunning down cops still have
quite a punch to them. Talman is suitably cold-blooded, while
McGraw is a classic square-jawed hero, and Jergens suitably icy
as the hard-hearted burlesque dancer (unsurprisingly, her dance
routine, despite wild audience reaction, is remarkably tame).
Fleischer gives the film a documentary realism and keeps the action
going at a brisk pace, making this an excellent little crime drama,
well worth picking up.
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