Directed by Richard Fleischer
Produced by Herman Schlom
Screenplay by Gerald Drayson Adams, Robert Angus, Earl Felton
From a story by Robert Leeds
Cinematography: Guy Roe
Film Editor: Desmond Marquette
Cast: Charles McGraw (Lt. Jim Cordell), Adele Jergens (Yvonne LeDoux), William Talman (Dave Purvis), Douglas Fowley (Benjamin ‘Benny’ McBride), Steve Brodie (Al Mapes), Gene Evans (William ‘Ace’ Foster)
A year or so ago, I had the extreme pleasure of being on Todd Liebenow’s excellent podcast Forgotten Filmcast, which features a film blogger covering a favorite movie they consider under-appreciated. Last time, we covered Last Train From Gun Hill (1959). This time, it’s Richard Fleischer’s terrific crime picture Armored Car Robbery (1950) starring Charles McGraw and William Talman. We recorded it first thing in the morning, so let’s hope I’m halfway articulate.
Directed by Howard W. Koch
Starring Broderick Crawford, Ralph Meeker, Reed Hadley, William Talman, Lon Chaney Jr., Felicia Farr, Charles Bronson
Part crime picture, part prison movie, Big House, U.S.A. (1955) is one of the most incredible films I’ve ever seen — so vile, so nasty, so mean. Let’s see. A kid is chucked off a cliff. A guy is trapped inside a giant boiler — and steamed like a lobster tail. One of the leads has his face and fingertips seared off with a blowtorch to conceal his identity. And that’s the short list.
Howard W. Koch will never make a list of the Great Directors. But with this one, he serves up a solid exploitation film — and gives a dream-team cast of 50s movie bad guys a real field day. With all these heavies working on the same film, did the rest of Hollywood have to shut down?
Kino Lorber is bringing Big House, U.S.A. to your house on Blu-ray this August. Highly, highly recommended.