Split Second (1953) Of All The Places To Drop An Atomic Bomb!

Split Second (1953) Dick Powell directed atom bomb film noir drama

Two escaped convicts on the run, one with a murderous temper, the other, a belly full of lead! Running for freedom, these two crooks need a place to lay low. A place far away, a place no cop or interfering civilians will go.  Hard man Sam Hurley (Stephen McNally) knows the perfect place, an old derelict mining ghost town in the Nevada Desert.  Maybe he can arrange to get his fugitive pal Bart Moore (Paul Kelly) fixed up at the same time. With the help of the silent but loyal gangster muscle who helped them breakout the joint, Dummy (Frank de Kova), they make their way to their perfect safe haven.

Split Second (1953) escaped convicts car Stephen McNally Paul Kelly Frank de KovaSplit Second (1953) old derelict mining ghost town

Little does Sam and Bart know the true extent to why the old mine is completely empty. A place cordoned off on all routes of access by road blocks for miles around. Hey there’s no one stupid enough to go there when all that has been broadcast on the radio and the army have checked to see all is clear. Because this nice quiet mining town is about to get red hot and blown completely off the map with nothing left but a giant mushroom shaped cloud.

Tagline – When this picture EXPLODES… you’ll know what action-excitement really is!

Split Second (1953) Hard man Sam Hurley (Stephen McNally)Split Second (1953) escaped convicts Stephen McNally car filled hostages

Now this quiet town is gonna get real crowded all of a sudden and that’s all down to Sam’s thuggish ways.  On stealing a car, he decides to take hostages just in case they get into trouble. Before he knows it, he has a small posse of innocent bystanders hanging around. Nine people together in a room and it’s not long before the dread, panic and despair starts to set in when the news is confirmed, this small town is gonna be vaporized very soon, at 6.00 am on the dot.

Split Second (1953) time ticking down atom bomb test

Out of the nine players in this noir drama with it’s unique backdrop is our three bad guys, boss Sam thumping out pain to anyone who standups to him, bleeding to death Bart and the shotgun toting Dummy ready to blast anyone who moves. In the goodie hostage corner we have the handsome young reporter Larry (Keith Andes), sassy dancer Dorothy Vail (Jan Sterling) neurotic Kay Garven (Alexis Smith) and her lover Arthur Ashton (Robert Paige). Then there’s Kay’s estranged husband Doctor Neal Garven (Richard Egan) and old hobo Asa Tremaine (Arthur Hunnicutt).

Split Second (1953) escaped convicts car Stephen McNally Paul Kelly Frank de Kova 2

Suddenly this nice quiet, laylow hideout of Sam’s has got mighty busy.  It’s not long before they are all bickering, driving him crazy, desperately trying to work out ways to escape and trying to come to terms with the fact they are all FUBAR.

Seriously, how is this predicament all going to play out? And I have to say, it’s really worth tracking down to find out. It’s brutal, bleak and filled with impending doom with a batch of sexual tension thrown in for good measure. There are fine performances throughout and Stephen McNally pulls off another menacing and brilliant baddie role. All being crammed up in one room helps with the tension as everyone looks at each other wondering who’s going to make the next move. Yeah of course it might have some improbable moments, still it didn’t bother my enjoyment of this riveting piece of high drama.

A few little facts I’ve learnt

  • Richard Egan and Stephen McNally would star together in the excellent colour noir I did a post on last year, Violent Saturday
  • Directed by Dick Powell who was a prolific actor I see from his filmography with some great looking movies I need to watch. These two sound fantastic, Murder, My Sweet and Cornered both from directed by Edward Dmytryk with Dick Powell taking the headliner spot.
  • It’s on Youtube for the time being if you fancy giving it a go or maybe you’ve seen this one? Your thoughts are most welcome.

Thanks for popping on by my little film blog…. All the best.. Mikey

15 thoughts on “Split Second (1953) Of All The Places To Drop An Atomic Bomb!

  1. Cracking film! If you are after films starring Powell check out Farewell My Lovely, Pitfall, Cornered, The Tall Target, Station West and The Bad and The Beautiful. Try and find episodes of his two anthology TV series as well – Four Star Playhouse and The Dick Powell Theatre.

    Liked by 1 person

      • My pleasure. Hope you enjoy discovering the acting work of Dick Powell.

        He really shone in serious roles I think. Farewell My Lovely was his first chance to show that he could do more than musical roles. He is also my favourite Marlowe (even more than Bogart’s portrayal).

        Liked by 1 person

        • I might give the musicals a miss but very excited to watch any more hard boiled stuff. Can’t wait to see his Marlowe. Just been investigating the Four Star Playhouse. What a great idea with the rotating cast with Ida Lupino too 🙂 Will do some digging and try find the most rated episodes.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Enjoy. I recommend Johnny O’ Clock (1947) too.
            Four Star Playhouse is great fun. I like the way they all rotated each episode too. Terrific series.

            Dick Powell Theatre is good too, Powell hosted that and guest starred in a few episodes. He was sadly very ill and dying towards the end (cancer) of the series, and some other actors stood in for him as host.

            Liked by 1 person

            • A lot of the Four Star Playhouse are on YT with a few of The Dick Powell Theatre. Just found the two top epsiodes from each. Will watch them very soon. (4 Star)”The Bomb” and (Theatre) “Price Of Tomatoes” with Peter Falk. Excellent well chuffed 🙂
              Thanks for the additional film for the list too.
              Sad to hear he was ill but sounds like he did what he loved to do right to the end.

              Liked by 1 person

  2. You had me at ‘Jan Sterling’! I just saved this from YouTube, so I’ll give it a look at some point. And I agree, I thought ‘Violent Saturday’ was pretty cool. And for some prime Dick Powell…’Murder, My Sweet’ takes the cake!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.