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Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Best Noir in Smallest Package

Armored Car Robbery Joins a Crowded 1950 Bill

Charles McGraw Cracks an Armored Car Robbery (1950)

Oh, what a honey of a noir! To think masterworks like this were taken so utterly for granted. RKO made it for just $203K, but still Armored Car got robbed to loss of $40,000 (only $195K in domestic rentals and $100K foreign). Weren't there critics and trade to tell everyone how nifty these 67 minutes were? Cop shows would surface on TV, making it tougher for modest features to graze. Now pics like this are revered, and rightly, Warner Instant streaming Armored Car Robbery lately in HD. Nice when a title gives you the pic's whole score, robbing fuse lit in an opener reel and chase being on from there. Charles McGraw is happily not among miscreants, him the seasoned dick beset with an immature partner. McGraw is my idea of star presence, gravel spit with every line. Heavies are the customary loser lot but for William Talman, who cuts tags out of wardrobe to avoid "loose ends." Who wrote such marvelous stuff? Credits say Earl Fenton had a hand, applied as well to RKO classics His Kind Of Woman, The Narrow Margin, more. Did this man (who died in 1972) realize how good he was? If not, the Academy should have told him. Directing was Richard Fleischer, Armored Car Robbery a calling card when he was mentioned for afterward jobs. Did Disney catch the Armored Car before offering Fleischer 20,000 Leagues in 1953? Unsure how many times I've watched this, an always joy, and evergreen forever.

11 Comments:

OpenID vienna said...

One of my absolute favorites . Great script,cast and direction. McGraw and Talman perfect, on opposite sides of the law.
Can watch it again and again.
Sorry to hear it made a loss.

1:49 PM  
Blogger Michael said...

Same here! The two names I'll set the DVR for no matter what the film is are Warren William and Charles McGraw-- nearly always good, and at worst you're out less than 75 minutes!

McGraw played Rick Blaine in a Casablanca TV series in the mid 50s. I wonder if any of it survives; impossible to cast anyone else in that part, but he's one of the few I'd want to see do it.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Kurt Burgess said...

I'll take about anything from the early Fleischer days, but this one is near the top.

10:15 PM  
Blogger Neely OHara said...

Thanks John for the great recommendation. Was previously unaware of ACR, but streamed it tonight and found it a nifty little thriller.

Kept wondering if Jergens was the poor man's Virginia Mayo, or if Mayo was the poor man's Adele Jergens. Any thoughts?

And when I began to stream, I found that for some reason the Warner Archive closed captions were turned on, and during the RKO fanfare the caption read: "Grandiose music."

Cracked me up!

11:38 PM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Michael, the debut episode of the 1955 series popped up on at least one of the CASABLANCA DVD box sets (I think it was the one from 7 or 8 years ago with white die cut box).

As to ARMORED CAR ROBBERY, a real goodie! And, yeah, mention that title and the first thing I think of is Talman cutting out those labels!

9:07 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

Great movie, fast and nasty.

5:32 PM  
Blogger aldi said...

I absolutely love this film! McGraw is always great and Talman too. The latter was wonderful as the psychotic hitchhiker in Ida Lupino's 1953 noir. There's a great anecdote about that on IMDB.

In an interview Talman recalled an incident that happened shortly after the release of The Hitch-Hiker (1953), in which he gave a chilling portrayal of escaped murderer and serial killer Emmett Meyers. He was driving his convertible in Los Angeles with the top down, and he stopped at a red light. Another driver in a convertible who was stopped next to him stared at him for a few seconds, then said, "You're the hitchhiker, right?" Talman nodded, indicating that he was. The other driver got out of his car, went over to Talman's car and slapped him across the face, then got back in his car and drove off. In recalling the story, Talman said, "You know, I never won an Academy Award but I guess that was about as close as I ever will come to one."

6:37 AM  
Blogger Mike Cline said...

Love ARMORED CAR ROBBERY. Showed it to my film group in 2013, and it was received BIG TIME. I'd rather watch ACR over 20,000 LEAGUES ANY time.

This and THE NARROW MARGIN are my two favorite McGraws.

11:22 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

This is such a fantastic movie! Glad to see you spotlight it. :)

Best wishes,
Laura

11:03 PM  
Blogger Jim Harwood said...

Excellent film. Interesting that it "borrows" Paul Sawtell's score from RAW DEAL for the opening credits.

12:20 AM  
Blogger rnigma said...

Of course, Talman is best remembered for playing Perry Mason's courtroom adversary Hamilton Burger. I recall seeing an old Republic B-flick, "The Man is Armed," wherein Talman played a crook pursued by Dane Clark (who played Lt. Tragg in the short-lived "New Perry Mason" in 1973).

1:17 PM  

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