Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Messed Up Men Plan A Bank Job With Jazz

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Robert Ryan Harry Belafonte robert wise noir drama

My, “what way will Robert Ryan go today?“, will he be a goody or baddy? That mystery went straight out the window in the first few minutes. As soon as he appears, in a washed out, oversaturated black and white shot, emerging on the city street, you get a sense of this man. He’s playing Earle Slater, a washed up southern war veteran who’s turned to crime. He’s savagely prejudice and filled with toxic racism, he’s angry and desperate to make some serious dough. He’s up for any manner of big payout as long as it plays out to his ideals. Ex cop David Burke (Ed Begley) has one of those perfect plan’s, money for the taking, easy money, Earle Slater takes notice.

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Robert Ryan street shot black and white hatOdds Against Tomorrow (1959) Ed Begley skyline central park manhattan

Tagline – He knew where $50,000 lay begging to be STOLEN!

David Burke lives with his trusty alsatian alone in his apartment block, has he retired from the force or has he been relieved of duty? Either way David Burke seems a nice fellow, though he’s eager to work his way to a cool $50,000 and change. He needs three men for the job, a bank job he’s stalked out, learnt all the angles, money for the taking. Luckily David Burke knows the jiving cool vibes playing cat Johnny Ingram (Harry Belafonte) a young musician brimming with confidence. He’ll surely be onboard for some big cold cash money, David Burke knows he’ll want it.

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Johnny Ingram (Harry Belafonte)Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Harry Belafonte playing vibes jazz club singing

Unfortunately Johnny Ingram is an addict, addicted to gambling. He’s up to his eyeballs in debt and that debt is held with gangster Bacco (Will Kuluva). Bacco is a reasonable man but Johnny Ingram has pushed his luck way too far. As things get tough, will Johnny Ingram be forced to take up this bank job offer? On the other hand Earle Slater has his doubts and working with a black man is not his ideal! Though he’s poor and humiliated being looked after by his younger girlfriend Lorry (Shelley Winters) who is sweet and happy to work a double shift.

Both, are broken men, both men are lost, both men call David Burke, they are in.

Tagline – This Isn’t A Story…It’s An Explosion!

The bank is secondary, almost a MacGuffin. This film is about broken souls, angry men, lost men. Riddled with addiction and prejudice the men, especially Earle Slater are tough and unsentimental but it flows through Johnny Ingram too, though more on the inside than the out. They are cynical self-motivated men looking out for number one. Earle Slater’s prejudices and hidden anger bubbles to the top where Johnny Ingram is buried beneath. David Burke is just determined.

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) (Ed Begley) (Harry Belafonte) noir shadow car

Can these three broken men find themselves and change their lives around? How will their journeys go when they hit that bank job deadline? Will they become friends or if all goes to plan what will they do with their loot? Definitely get to seeing this expertly directed film noir from Robert Wise if you can and if you’ve seen it, feel free to let me know below if you wish.

A few observations

  • Director Robert Wise has a bonkers film list, he’s made from classics like West Side Story and The Sound Of Music. To some of my favourite films like The Andromeda StrainRun Silent Run Deep and the first Star Trek movie, which is still a feast for the eyes. Also the incredible noir boxer drama The Set-Up also starring Robert Ryan.
  • The lovely and slightly off-kilter Gloria Grahame plays Helen a rather flirtatious neighbour.
  • Richard Bright plays gangster Bacco’s muscle, Coco. A hitman with a kink and a strange quirk to him.

Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Richard Bright plays gangster Bacco's muscle, Coco

  • The story is based on a novel by writer William P McGivern who wrote some hard boiled crime-busters turned into films. The Big Heat, Shield For Murder and Rogue Cop. The last two I need to see.
  • In the truly wonderful jazz club scenes Harry Belafonte gets to show off his singing whilst playing the vibraphone. Look out for jazz singer, dancer Mae Barnes who plays Annie and dancer and choreographer Carmen de Lavallade who plays Kitty.
Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) jazz singer dancer Mae Barnes Annie choreographer Carmen de Lavallade kitty

Carmen de Lavallade & Mae Barnes

  • The soundtrack is supplied by the long running jazz group The Modern Jazz Quartet and it can be purchased here on Discogs. I’m very tempted to get myself a copy to add to my soundtrack collection.
  • If you would like to read another take on this film then please pop on over to fellow blogger Gary at his Cracked Rear Viewer movie blog.
Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Robert Ryan Harry Belafonte larking around on set

Robert Ryan & Harry Belafonte larking around on set

PS Two things I will say is, one, look out for the a classic gangster movie end similarity and the other, the last lines of the movie will hit you with a gut wrenching body slam.

Mike Wolf

18 thoughts on “Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) Messed Up Men Plan A Bank Job With Jazz

  1. A cracking flick. One of my favourites. Harry and Robert both deliver fine performances here. I love that we hear Harry sing too. Agree with you about the ending.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sounds good. I up for anything with Harry Belafonte. Oh, by the way, I watched The Hidden. It was a wild ride.To me it’s a hardcore B movie with some sophisticated directorial flourishes that elevates it and at the same time gives it a sense of humor so that we are let in on the joke. It’s smart, good fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have a few Harry’s lined up to watch. Was so good seeing him singing and playing the vibes. Made the club scene burst alive. Haha I’m so pleased to have put you on to The Hidden and mega chuffed you went out and saw it and enjoyed it’s crazy nonsense. Yeah it should be a B-movie, well probably is one, but it holds its head up above of all the carnage. It has it all and has multiple viewings written all over it. Thanks Pam.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, it’s one of those that I will enjoy dropping in on. I did have to look it up and was pleased to find it on Infinity. If not for you I probably would have never run on to it and if I did, I most likely wouldn’t have watched it–and that would have been my loss.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post 🙂 Odds Against Tomorrow is one of (If not) the most underrated film noir’s of all-time. This film came out two years before he co-directed the Oscar winning West Side Story in 1961 and four years before The Haunting in 1963. All of them are great films in my opinion. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Solid flick! And of course another Robert Ryan film checked off your list. Might I add a bold statement. Robert Wise directed the BEST horror movie of the 1940’s, The Body Snatcher starring Boris Karloff. Shield For Murder solid. Just ordered my blu ray edition. Once I get it expect a review and a chance for me to show off an original one sheet to go with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m sure that bold statement is fighting talk to someone somewhere LOL. I was sure I hadn’t seen it until I went and looked at it on IMDB. You know what dude, I think, pretty sure I saw this in my late stoned teen years!! It was so eerie, just remember people wandering around a graveyard digging up bodies. I’m sure it was it. I will definitely be re-visiting it. Didn’t realise it was Boris and Bela at that time!!
      BTW if that poster for Shield For Murder is the one I’ve seen it, it’s brilliant. The one with him ready to pop off a few rounds. I might be watching it tonight unless something else jumps in! Looking forward to your take.

      Liked by 1 person

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