When you take a look at the filmography of Robert Wise, you might understand why Odds Against Tomorrow isn't remembered as much. I mean, this guy did direct West Side Story, The Sound of Music, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. That is a collection of films that have reputations that precede themselves. It also cemented Wise as a legend of cinema, but in between these Hollywood classics was a film like Odds Against Tomorrow. Wise focused in on the social issues that plagued our country, making films that commented on race, depression, and he got it in a script that was black listed, written by Abraham Polonsky and Nelson Gidding from the novel by William P. McGivern.
They also say that making a good film is 90% casting, and the meticulously chosen actors here is a large reason why Odds Against Tomorrow is great. Belafonte is a pioneer as the first African-American to win an Emmy. His performance as Johnny uses all of his attributes, the style, the grace, including endearing moments of dialogue with his wife Ruth (Kim Hamilton) about debt, the current racial divide, and the pressure of providing for his daughter. There is also a fantastic song number in a night club highlighting Belafonte's crooner skills. The other supporting roles, Shelley Winters as Lorry, the wife of Slater, who wants to make him happy without stepping on any toes. Or neighbor Helen played by Oscar-winner Gloria Grahame, who becomes a sexual escape for Slater when he tries to find a slice of pleasure in his miserable life.
It all comes to a head in the phenomenal, climactic ending. The first half is the planning and build up to the eventual heist. A movie like The Town, Thief, or any of the Ocean's Eleven films owe a great debt of gratitude to Odds Against Tomorrow. It's an instant classic and has an ending that surprised me, but also is the perfect metaphor for those who hate and those who put themselves ahead of their loved ones. In the end, it is the selfish choices that leave everyone burned in the end. Odds Against Tomorrow deserves to be mentioned among the greats of noir heist films. Make a safe bet and buy a copy from Olive Films today!
Written by: Leo Brady
MOVIE: ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW
STARRING: HARRY BELAFONTE; ROBERT RYAN; ED BEGLEY; SHELLEY WINTERS; GLORIA GRAHAME
DIRECTED BY: ROBERT WISE
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 4 STARS (Out of 4)
Have you ever had a friend or co-worker tell you they “don't watch black & white movies?” I have, and my response is always the same: you are missing out on a lot of good movies. One of them that I recently discovered on blu-ray from Olive Films, is Robert Wise's noir-heist film Odds Against Tomorrow, a film so good that it's ludicrous that it hasn't been re-made already. Harry Belafonte and Robert Ryan star as a pair of men from different walks of life, brought together by hard times. Belafonte is Johnny Ingram, a black man that is down on his betting luck and in debt to a local mobster. Ryan is Earle Slater, a racist ex-con, who can't find any happiness post WWII, and wants to hold onto what little dignity he has left. When the pairs friend Dave Burke (Ed Begley) proposes to them a “can't lose bank robbery”, the two men take the offer, but their social differences, hatred for one another make this job not as easy as it should be. Oscar winning director Robert Wise crafted a film ahead of the times, capturing a message that feels just as relevant today. Odds Against Tomorrow is a sure bet, if you don't like black & white movies, you will love this one.