Sunday, June 23, 2013

5 Against the House (1955)

Director: Phil Karlson

Starring: Guy Madison, Kim Novak, Brian Keith, Alvy Moore, Kerwin Mathews, William Conrad, Jack Dimond, Jean Willies

More info: IMDb

Tagline: They hit the jackpot in the world's richest gambling house!

Plot: Four college buddies enjoy a night at a Reno casino and overhear a cop saying that robbing the casino "cannot be done." That gets the brainiest rich kid among them thinking up a plan for the perfect robbery. He convinces the others to join in when they hear that it will only be a college hoax, his plan being to let the police know where the money is afterwards. The thing is, one of his friends has a head injury from the war, and has no intention of returning a dime.

My rating: 6/10

Will I watch it again? No.

The Columbia Film Noir Collection vol 1 DVD set was waiting for me when I got home from work the other day.  "Oh boy!", I said as I ripped it from the box.  "Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!".  I loves me some old B&W crime pictures.  I study the titles carefully, trying to find the right one to watch that evening.   THE BIG HEAT (1953) is a sure fire winner but I've seen that one before.  It can wait.  What's this?  5 AGAINST THE HOUSE?  Look at that cast!  The plot synopsis sounded promising.  Cut to a half hour in and I'm scratching my head wondering what qualifies this as a noir.  There's not much as it turns out.  It's in black & white and there is a crime but there's not much time spent on the heist so there's not much crime and there's no bad news dame, so what's the deal? 

The first third or more of the picture is getting to know these guys as they hang around each other on a night out in Reno and then mostly back at college.  Brian Keith has some very funny pickup lines and the other guys have their moments, too.  Once one of the boys starts working on the idea of knocking off a casino because it's been said it can't be done, we still get to hang out with them at college.  Eventually the ball starts to roll and we're on our way back to Reno for the big gig.  The heist itself is practically over before it begins and then the shit hits the fan but it's more like a softball pitch of shit to the fan rather than a curve or fastball.  So what's noirish about this? It's black and white and there's a crime.  No tough, bad news dames, no fast-talking hoods or coppers, no slick shadows hiding amongst themselves, nothing edgy or even all that dangerous (except for the one guy who's holding the gun, turning the tables on the heist).  I kind of liked it.  It's not a bad picture and there are a few things I dug about it but it's not what I was expecting.  I can finally blame someone else for that...Columbia Pictures! 

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