DVD/Blu-Ray News #165: Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).

Directed by Robert Wise
Starring Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Shelley Winters, Ed Begley, Gloria Grahame

Greed, lust, corruption, murder — film noir can pack about every sin, vice and crime you can think of into about 90 minutes of goodness. That’s why I love em so much. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) goes a step further and stirs in a big fat helping of hatred. You could easily say it’s a movie about racism, but it goes deeper than that. Robert Ryan’s character just plain hates — everybody. He’s a guy with absolutely zero to recommend him. Where did such a kind-hearted (by all accounts) man go to dredge up all this nasty stuff?

A couple of despicable crooks (ex-con Ryan, ex-cop Ed Begley) bring a black man (Harry Belafonte) in on their bank job. Everything goes to hell, as it always does in these kinds of things, and we get to watch. It’s a gritty, tough and terrific picture — and it packs quite a wallop. Robert Wise did this before directing West Side Story (1961). And while in some ways the two movies couldn’t be more different, they both give us a look at what kind of damage hate can do. It was Wise’s last film in black and white.

The score by John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet is terrific, and the album of the MJQ performing it (Music From Odds Against Tomorrow) is unbelievably cool. The actual film score was also released.

Olive Films is bringing this out on both DVD and Blu-Ray in May. I’m on a bit of a crime picture/noir binge right now, spurred by the incredible Shield For Murder (1954), so I’m really stoked to learn this is on the way. Highly, highly recommended.

3 Comments

Filed under 1959, DVD/Blu-ray News, Gloria Grahame, Olive Films, Robert Ryan, Robert Wise, United Artists

3 responses to “DVD/Blu-Ray News #165: Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).

  1. The introduction to Earle Slater is the greatest intro to a character in all noir. And the movie never lets up from the opening scene.

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  2. Boppa

    The movie’s reputation has been hurt by its ending, which seems cribbed from ‘White Heat.’ Which is a shame, as it’s an outstanding film. Extras on the R2 version (which is 1:33) indicate that Harry Belafonte was heavily involved in the development of Polonsky’s screenplay, which departs significantly from the William P. McGivern novel . I haven’t read it, but apparently Slater and Ingram become pals!

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