Odds Against Tomorrow - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Odds Against Tomorrow Reviews

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½ May 8, 2016
Showing the people behind the bank robbery. A good drama, but ended oddly.
½ August 8, 2014
A ballsy depiction of radical politics a la mode... in 1959. This idealistic film is overtly cautionary, instead of subtly bleak and dismal.
October 21, 2013
great noir and more from the great Robert Wise who I once met
½ January 25, 2013
Subtle and well performed, Odds Against Tomorrow is a standard issue piece of noir filmmaking. Yet another heist movie, this one focuses more on backstory than the actual crime. That approach is refreshing, since we already know the heist is going to completely go wrong at some point. They always do.

Featuring some great shots, this has the look of a classic crime caper, replete with the tough guy dialogue. All the players in this piece are down on their luck small time crooks in need of a break. As one would expect, superb performances are delivered by Ed Begley as Dave and Harry Belafonte as Johnny.

Security/getaway driver, Earl, is a royal son-of-a-bitch. His shameless racist rants quickly get on the nerves of his partners in crime. Despite their protests the guy is relentless in his prejudiced diatribe. Dave and Johnny both know that they have a job to do, but they can at least get along, goddamnit. As you would expect, Earl's intolerance leads to their ultimate demise

The only gripe I have about this is the shoddy editing at the end. There's no lead up to the final disaster. It's just, BLAM!, and then the calm after the storm. It's almost like they lost the footage prior to post -production and just threw together what they had. I'm joking of course, I'm sure the director got coverage, but for some reason chose not to use it. Seriously, the last sequence of shots is a jumbled mess.

Also, the lead up to the climax is a little baffling. I understand that Harry Belafonte's character is more than a little pissed off, but you'd think he'd focus more on self preservation than revenge.

Despite this, there is a payoff at the conclusion. The last uttered line is both ironic and macabre. Always end on a high note...
January 15, 2013
good hard edged film noir crime drama.
½ December 14, 2012
Odds Against Tomorrow is not only a suspenseful and fast-paced noir-ish crime thriller, but it's also a valuable social commentary on the racial discrimination in the USA circa 1950's. When three loners come together in order to execute a seemingly perfect crime, no one comes out of the whole intrigue unharmed. There is a lot of tension, sharp dialogues, moody cinematography. Jazzy tunes find their way perfectly into the whole mysterious ordeal, and smooth the atmosphere that's going through the roof at one point in the film. Every character has his own problems, and the desperation leads them all three to a dangerous finale. Odds Against Tomorrow is one of the finest crime thrillers ever, and a heist movie that's conscious about its themes in every way.
October 17, 2012
Not That You Want Them to Succeed Anyway

By 1959, the US military had desegregated. Little Rock Central High School was being desegregated. Buses were being desegregated. Sit-ins were beginning to desegregate lunch counters. Heck, the National Hockey League was desegregated, as much as it ever really has been. However, to this day, there are people who resent this. A current, and depressing, theme in some circles is "put the white back in the White House." And so in 1959, it is hardly surprising that there is a white man who is not interested in working with a black man--even if the job he is not interested in doing with a black man is knocking over a bank. What is much more surprising is that a film noir was made in which the black man was something approaching the hero--a criminal, yes, but a criminal with an understandable motivation. This couldn't have done much at the box office, all things considered--even Nat King Cole couldn't find a national sponsor for his TV show.

Johnny Ingram (Harry Belafonte) is a gambler. He would be making a decent living as a calypso entertainer, but he gambles and loses and is heavily in debt. He is also being followed by ominous men, who keep an eye on him enough to be able to threaten his ex-wife, Ruth (Kim Hamilton), and their daughter, Edie (Lois Thorne). In order to pay them off, Johnny finally agrees to rob a bank with Dave Burke (Ed Begley). However, the third person in the scheme is Earle Slater (Robert Ryan). Earle is from Oklahoma, which is more Southern than a lot of people realize. He has definite views about blacks, and that does not include the slightest interest in knocking over a bank with one. However, for some reason, Dave thinks that Johnny and Earle are the right people to help him. What's more, neither man has much else in his life. Earle feels that his life is worthless because his wife, Lorry (Shelley Winters), is the one earning the money.

There isn't an awful lot of plot to the movie. It's mostly seeing what kind of people Johnny and Earle are. Johnny resents like hell that his wife is friendly with the white people at Edie's school, and he's afraid that his wife will teach their daughter to kiss up to them. He also conflates "be respectful to" with "kiss up to." Earle, on the other hand, has the kind of slatternly wife that Shelley Winters always seemed to end up playing. She works, and the implication is that she isn't just waiting tables. I'm not sure Earle likes her very much, and I'm certain he doesn't love her. Their upstairs neighbour, Helen (Gloria Grahame in the kind of role she always seemed to end up playing), is fascinated by him, and he's perfectly willing to go along with whatever ends up happening because of that. It also almost seems as though Lorry knows what is going to happen but resigns herself to it if it will make Earle stay around a little longer, if it will make him a little happier.

It's also worth noting that, for all Earle thinks blacks need whites to think for them, Johnny is clearly smarter than he is. Oh, sure, Johnny isn't all that bright in a lot of ways. That's why he ended up as part of this group in the first place, after all. We see the life he could have had with Ruth and Edie, and we see why he doesn't have it anymore. However, we also see that he is at least clever enough to come up with a solution to the one thing that makes robbing that particular bank in the way they've come up with a challenge. Earle's solution is firepower. Johnny considers the problem and comes up with a solution that, in theory at least, won't end with anyone's getting hurt. Though I suppose Earle would spin that as cowardice or something. Doubtless some of the audience did as well. However, I don't see how Earle's plan, such as it was, could have worked in the first place. I don't think shooting would have gotten that door open, and it certainly was much more likely to draw attention.

I also have to say, I found the ending to be a little heavy-handed. I'm going to go ahead and give the spoilers, partially because I doubt most of the people reading this care and partially because I don't really have much else to say about it. The whole thing ends up going horribly wrong in ways none of them could have predicted. (Partially because Earle is asserting dominance in a particularly stupid way, but partially because things just happened.) Dave is dead, and Earle and Johnny are trying to make their escape. However, as you might imagine, those two making an escape together doesn't go well. They still don't like each other, and each blames the other for everything that has gone wrong. And Johnny, for reasons I somehow missed, ends up shooting. And there is this big explosion, because [movie physics], and they are both killed. Burned pretty much beyond recognition. So burned, in fact, that you can't tell the black man from the white man. The End. I mean, I ask you.
October 8, 2012
A terrific noir with all the pieces falling into place: great storyline. good script, wonderful performances and superior direction. I also loved the atmospheric music score by John Lewis.
½ May 15, 2012
Classy, stylish and brutish late noir with a top cast, great photography and an awesome jazz score. Robert Ryan is on top, top form set against two unconventional women characters played by Winters and Grahame. The latter has only a small part but really steals the scenes she is in with Ryan. Stange allegorical ending that is reminiscent of WWII with a slightly ham-fisted moral message about race.
April 6, 2012
Good stuff. It's been quite a few years since the last time I saw a Harry Belafonte film, I had forgotten just what a tremendous actor he really is. This is a noir classic that will hold your attention wire to wire.

Note: Did the ending remind anyone else of White Heat? ("Top of the world, Ma!")
January 16, 2012
Overt and more subtle racial issues, what I would today call machismo, desperation, anan openly gay (a bad guy, but not a particularly persecuted one)character, and a fast crime story combine for an entertaining movie and a snap shot of a period of time.
January 16, 2012
nice crime thriller w/good social commentary.
December 11, 2011
Good movie that was ahead of its time. I like the controversial themes that Activist and AMAZING person Harry Belafonte chose to highlight. Luckily HarBel bought the rights to this movie and offered the uncomfortable feeling that it gave to its watchers. Belafonte deserves a lot more credit than he is given!!
½ June 30, 2011
Thursday, June 30, 2011

(1959) Odds Agaisnt Tomorrow

Old has-been who used to work as a police officer try to recruit two more people to help lift some money out of a particular bank! And like other 'bank heist' films made in this era, they never make it solely because of the Robert Ryan (The Wild Bunch) character reprising his "racial" role from 1947 "Crossfire", who doesn't get along with the African American character played by known singer Harry Belafonte! Very tame compared to the heist films of today, such as "The Inside Man" and "The Italian Job"!

2 out of 4
½ June 23, 2011
An intrusive score hampers the effectiveness of the first half, and the ending is way too on-the-nose, but it's well-acted and doesn't shy away from the racial tension that forms the crux of the conflict between the Belafonte and Ryan characters.
April 15, 2011
I've had a mixed reaction to Robert Wise's "late noir". True, it is a rather bleak bank heist film (which I like) and it provides some social commentary about the horribleness of racism (which is important) but somehow it has little or no "edge". Robert Ryan is brutal and a loser, Harry Belafonte is cool (but not really a loser), and Ed Begley is weirdly charismatic as the ex-cop ringleader, but Wise's style seems to slow the picture down (despite his montage editing), aiming for some grandeur perhaps, that distorts the film's central story about a few desperate losers on the down and out trying to make a big score to solve their problems.
April 1, 2011
Odds Against Tomorrow explores the potent themes of racism in what seems at first a usual bank robbery, with some great performances from Robert Ryan, Harry Belafonte and the marvellously sneaky-looking Ed Begley. While it gets a little over the top towards the end, the film looks great, with its gritty direction and intriguing New York locations.
½ March 3, 2011
This heist picture has the distinction and strength of an unusual dedication to deeper characterizations than films of its type would generally take.

The motivations of the two lead protagonists are drawn with such care that some viewers may find it a dull interlude as they wait for the crime action to unfold.

In opposition to that sentiment I would say that the climax actually degrades the film somewhat, as the resolution of conflict between them could have been done with much more flair and the rather simple way it ends belies all that led up to it.

Strong performance and a hip score make it well worth checking out.
November 19, 2010
I saw this movie in 1959 when I was seventeen and the only thing I recall with clarity was the "souped up" Chevy station wagon. I thought that was 'cool man', an old jalopy with a powerful engine. I liked that kind of deception. Also, I thought the filming was done in Watertown, New York and always associated the town with the movie. Everything else went over my head, so imagine my surprise when I viewed it last night. First off the Chevy had nothing to do with the film and Watertown was never mentioned one time. In fact the film was done in Manhattan and I believe Hudson, New York.

Here's what I completely missed. It was about the increasing stress of full integration brought on by two monumental events: President Harry Truman's Executive Order 9981 in 1948 that integrated the military just two years before the Korean so-called 'police action' and the Supreme Court's landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka which declared that 'separate but equal' affirmed in Plessey v. Ferguson (1896) was unconstitutional. This movie was about the everyday struggle citizens of this nation were experiencing in adjusting to these events. Black soldiers (Belafonte's character) returned from combat in Korea in 1952 to face persistent second class citizenship. Some families that tried to 'be white' (Kim Hamilton, who played the part of Belafonte's ex-wife). And then there was Robert Ryan's character, Earle, who still lives among us today. All this dynamic plays against Ed Begley's character's rather simple and workable plan to rob a bank in the small town of Watertown ... er, Melton, New York.

The movie really isn't that great. I think it is the script and maybe the direction of Robert Wise. He had a great cast to work with, but with the exception of Begley there was no stand out performance by the other heavy weights in this production. Belafonte produced this project so I don't know how much influence he had over the script which comes from crime novelist William P. McGiven. Here is one review of the book. Belafonte was and still is an energetic activist for civil rights which may have influence this production at the expense of character and story development.
Super Reviewer
October 18, 2010
Solid crime caper is a little heavy on the symbolism but is well acted and tightly directed with an intriguing and apt music score. Gloria Grahame, who looks pretty rough, is wasted in a small meaningless part.
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