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Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)

Cast: Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Shelley Winters, more...
Director: Robert Wise, Wise
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Rating: Not Rated
Studio: MGM
Genre: Film Noir, Crime, Capers
Running Time: 96 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
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Harry Belafonte was both producer and star of this hard-edged film noir crime drama. Dave Burke (Ed Begley, Sr.) is an ex-cop who has been kicked off the force for refusing to inform on his colleagues to the State Crime Committee. Short on money, the former policeman jumps to the other side of the law and plans to knock over a bank in upstate New York. He'll need help, so Burke brings in two other men to assist him -- Johnny Ingram (Belafonte), a jazz musician with an addiction to gambling that's put him deep in debt to gangster Bacco (Will Kuluva), and Earl Slater (Robert Ryan), a disturbed war veteran who hasn't been able to find work after serving time for manslaughter. While their common greed and desperation has brought these men together, their differences threaten to tear them apart, especially when Slater's fear and hatred of black men rises to the surface. Blacklisted screenwriter Abraham Polonsky co-wrote the screenplay for Odds Against Tomorrow, using his friend John O. Killens as a "front." John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet contributed a memorable musical score. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Brilliant! by pstaylor75 October 10, 2005 - 4:48 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
I just want to add that this is one of the most gorgeously shot movies I've seen in a while. There are so many scenes that look like photographs come to life, capturing both gritty, urban New York, and quiet small town life. The film is well-written, well-acted, and realistic, staying true to the characters throughout. It does a wonderful job of depicting the racism of the times without being preachy about it: Ryan's racist is much more convincing than the one he played in Crossfire.

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Godard, Truffaut and the like were as fond of this as they were of Kiss Me Deadly.

The only disappointing thing about the film was Gloria Grahame's stilted performance. She hadn't quite mastered the jaded floozy she nailed so well in Crossfire and the Big Heat.

odds on favorite by marcelmarsyas July 22, 2004 - 6:06 PM PDT
3 out of 3 members found this review helpful
this movie is worth watching repeatedly for the reasons stated in the synopsis and review, but also because it offers such great "street" depictions of city and rural america at the end of the fifties. this includes a couple of jazzy nightclub performances and lots of great cars, storefronts, roadsides, and set interiors all excellently photographed. the tough guy characters are more real than those often played by Bogart, Cagney and Raft and the story plays out the dilemmas of a few desparate guys coming together to change their own particular personal lot. At the same time it symbollically reflects various social patterns of that era on several levels without any gloss. it makes sense that Robert Wise would direct West Side Story as his next film - while a much different production, it deals heavily with similar themes.

By the odds... by eifert July 17, 2004 - 10:33 PM PDT
5 out of 5 members found this review helpful
Odds Against Tomorrow is a sharp little Black-and-White noir caper movie. Robert Ryan is very good as a southern accented hateful bigot. He's teamed with the sharp dressed, compulsive gambler Harry Belafonte. Belafonte financed the movie. No doubt that's why the bouncy jazz soundtrack is so good.
The movie's pairing of the two builds to an explosive finale following the heist that goes about as wrong as it could. Also starring Ed Begley is the leader of the gang. He's also excellent as the one man keeping the caper on track and keeping the two crooks from killing each other.

Here's what Begley says after one of Ryan's racial slurs:

"Don't beat out that Civil War jazz here, Slater! We're all in this together, each man equal. And we're taking care of each other. It's one big play, our one and only chance to grab stakes forever. And I don't want to hear what your grandpappy thought on the old farm down in Oklahoma! You got it?"

A worthwhile caper for fans of noir or Belafonte.

Influenced by the more comic The Asphalt Jungle

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.48)
33 Votes
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