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Other/Miscellaneous => Off-Topic Discussion => Topic started by: drinkanddestroy on February 06, 2013, 12:05:49 PM

Title: Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on February 06, 2013, 12:05:49 PM

Armored Car Robbery (1950)

cast, courtesy of imdb

Charles McGraw    ...    Lt. Jim Cordell
Adele Jergens    ...    Yvonne LeDoux
William Talman    ...    Dave Purvis
Douglas Fowley    ...Benjamin 'Benny' McBride
Steve Brodie    ...    Al Mapes
Don McGuire    ...    Detective Danny Ryan

previous post by dave jenkins

Armored Car Robbery (1950) - 7/10. Dave Purvus (William Talman) had the perfect heist figured . . . until it all went terribly wrong. Richard Fleischer directed this tight 68 minute police procedural. Its chief virtue lies in watching Talman improvise his way out of a number of corners, but Charles McGraw's dogged police detective provides some moments of fun as well. Too bad the ending is so pedestrian.

IMO: this is just a plain old cheap pedestrian shitty noir. You're never bored but never too interested either. 6/10 at best
Title: Re: Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Post by: cigar joe on February 06, 2013, 03:56:22 PM
......and a real opinion from a Noir Aficionado

Steve-O  Back Alley Forums

Armored Car Robbery (1950)

Daring armored car heists were seen in a number of film noir. The best film to show that particular crime – Burt Lancaster in Criss Cross – came out just a year before the simply-named Armored Car Robbery (James Ellroy loves the film but was no doubt re-writing it in his head when he called it “Armored Car Heist” on TCM).

The stripped-down 67-minute Armored Car Robbery is a great little crime noir that features some amazing noir photography and outstanding performances from Charles McGraw and William Talman.

Talman is a criminal mastermind out to make a fortune by quickly robbing an armored car. McGraw plays an obsessed cop out to get Talman after he guns down his long-time partner. The two are so good in the film the other actors in it barely register. The only other notable performance is Douglas Fowley playing a pencil-thin mustached thug who still lusts after his sexy wife that dumped him. (Fowley is not unlike the zoot-suit wearing wolf in that old Warner Bros cartoons whistling at Lauren Bacall.)

The film, unlike the real-life crime it's based on, takes place in Los Angeles. Dave Purvis (Talman) calls the cops every day at the same time reporting a hold up at old Wrigley Field (the one in LA, not Chicago). Every time the prowlers get to the park Purvis checks his stop watch and notes the time. He's trying to time out how long cops will get to the park as part of a simple plan to rob an armored car that makes it's last stop there loaded with cash.

Once he's satisfied with the plan, he recruits his gang. Unlike Terry Leather in The Bank Job, Purvis thinks of himself as a criminal mastermind. He's never been arrested – never even had a parking ticket. He keeps no written evidence on any of his plans. He cuts the labels off his suits and doesn't let his fellow criminals write anything down. He wants nothing to be traced back to him after the crime. He invites his criminal recruits (lead by Fowley) to his hotel room. They're easily impressed by the map of the Wrigley Field neighborhood concealed in his window shade. The three men go along with the scheme once they find out that Purvis is involved. Apparently he pulled off a similar heist before and has quite a reputation among his peers. Little do they realize Purvis is not much smarter than they are. He has no plan once the crime goes sour and his decisions afterwards are all questionable.

Steve Brodie (famous for being beat up twice by Elvis in movies) and Gene Evans are the other criminals. However, these familiar faces to fans of 40s and 50s film don't make much of an impression here. Blonde bombshell Adele Jergens plays Benny McBride's (Fowley) wife known by her professional dancing name Yvonne LeDoux. She's shacking up with Purvis – but Benny has no idea.

The heist doesn't go as planned. Lieutenant Cordell of the LAPD (McGraw) and his partner are in the neighborhood right when the crime is broadcast on police radios. They arrive to the surprise of Purvis who shoots Cordell's partner played by James Flavin – movie buffs will remember him as the second mate on the ship that captured King Kong (1933). After shooting the cop, the four criminals jump in a car in front of Wrigley filed and try to take it on the lam. McBride is shot in the gut but the four still manage to elude cops at road blocks on the lookout for them. Eventually they head for a shack near an oilfield where they'll eventually jump in a boat and make their final getaway. The injured McBride throws a monkey wrench into their plans. Purvis's gang begins to unravel as distrust and paranoia begins to build. Benny – who knows he's going to die if he doesn't see a doctor - is killed by Purvis after he demands his share of the loot to get medical care. His body and the get-away car are dumped. Purvis quick gets to work elimnating the other crooks. Gang member Al Mapes (Brodie) gets away and looks up Yvonne at the Burly Q where she works at as a means to find Purvis and get his money taken from him but is trapped. Purvis gets away again.

During an exciting finale, Talman ends up getting killed on the Metropolitan Airport tarmac after kissing the blades of an arriving airplane. The robbery money is blown all over the runway – not unlike the ending of The Killing. McGraw goes to the hospital to visit his second partner – who was also put into harms way and shot by Purvis. Luckily, this partner lives and they can both share a laugh together before the movie ends.

Talman began his screen career as a cold-blooded killer in The Woman on Pier 13 (1949). After Armored Car Robbery Talman would play a number of menacing characters in noir including The City That Never Sleeps (1953), and the prison-escape films Big House USA And Crashout in 1955. He's striking screen presence – bulging lizard-like eyes and high forehead – made him a natural playing heavies. His greatest success would be pairing up with another regular noir villain Raymond Burr in Perry Mason. Talman's inept district attorney Hamilton Burger would battle but ultimately lose every week to Burr's Mason for years on TV. Talman's best role in noir, in my opinion, is the Ida Lupino-directed The Hitch-Hiker (1953) playing killer Emmett Myers.

Charles McGraw, according Alan K. Rode's biography on McGraw - Charles McGraw: Biography of a Film Noir Tough Guy- was immediately cast for Code 3 (the original name of the film) after the success of The Threat in 1949. Up until then McGraw alternated between playing villains and good guys – memorably evil in The Killers (1946), T-Men (1949) and The Threat – before being regularly cast as hard-nosed cops by the time The Narrow Margin was released in 1952.

Rode notes:

As “Lieutenant Cordell” of L.A.P.D. Robbery-Homicide, Charles McGraw was John Law personified. McGraw, decked out in classic Robbery-Homicide mufti of belted raincoat and pulled-down fedora, is relentless in pursuit of the holdup gang who killed his partner. No punches are pulled as he closes ground on the elusive Talman while inhaling reheated squad room java and snapping off terse Earl Felton dialogue.
Eddie Muller in his book Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir says McGraw is the only actor who actually looks like an armored car. Muller praise his performance as well and notes that McGraw “took taciturn to tight-lipped extremes.” Check out how McGraw handles talking to his partner's widow.

Making these kind of thrillers back in the 40s and early 50s meant taking on the Breen office. Any film filled with crime, violence, strippers and sex were bound to be looked at closely. Alan Rode in his McGraw biography talks about how Armored Car Robbery was censored:

An interesting historical perspective about period censorship is provided in some of the correspondence about Armored Car Robbery between RKO and the Production Code Administration. The Code office was run by the resolute Joseph I. Breen. Breen’s office possessed Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) approval authority over all movies released for public exhibition. The studio moguls cemented this system into place after the hue and cry by the Catholic Church and similar public moral guardians who threatened a boycott of Hollywood’s product, hereafter dubbed ‘pre-code’ films, during the early 1930’s. The code was in place, but had been largely ignored. The studios believed they needed an independent enforcer in order to protect their golden goose from themselves. Although Breen was a pompous moralist, the actual roadblock was the narrowly composed, rigid Production Code that the studios tied themselves to in order to placate the state censorship boards and the Church. In practice, the Code system became an administrative limbo bar which producers and directors had to navigate under or around in order to get their pictures approved for release. The initially submitted script for Armored Car Robbery raised some of the moralistic hackles at the Breen office which were retrospectively typical. Breen urged RKO to ensure that Adele Jergens’ breasts remained appropriately hidden during the burlesque numbers in the film. Any hint that Jergens’ character was a loose woman, i.e. stripper must be either “eliminated or downplayed” in accordance with the Code. Breen was also appalled that the audience might conclude that the Jergens character, Yvonne Le Doux was actually having extramarital sex with Bill Talman’s amoral gangster in a motel room. Breen demanded that some of the minimally suggestive dialogue between the two actors during the hotel room sequences be revised to reflect a more exculpatory relationship. Earl Fenton made some cosmetic changes to the script to allay Breen’s concerns before filming began and the finished product was stamped with the MPAA seal and released.
Director Richard O. Fleischer (son of Popeye creator Max Fleischer) did an excellent job with the compact film. Some consider this to be Fleisher's best work while churning out B-movies during the RKO years.

However, if you watch the film expecting to find realistic criminal crime-solving techniques of the late 1940s forget about it. The way the LAPD tracks down the money is highly unlikely. But then again, the movie succeeds because of the heightened emotion and attitude put into it by McGraw, Talman and director Fleischer - not the story itself. Just like most great film noir.

Armored Car Robbery and The Bank Job are two excellent crime films. The two would make a great double feature for film noir fans craving heist movies.
Title: Re: Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Post by: Groggy on February 06, 2013, 04:13:44 PM (
Title: Re: Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Post by: cigar joe on February 06, 2013, 05:15:02 PM (

poof its gone  O0
Title: Re: Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on February 06, 2013, 06:06:22 PM
Title: Re: Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 05, 2018, 11:29:07 PM
saw this movie again, on TCM Noir Alley. I give it a 7/10
Title: Re: Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Post by: drinkanddestroy on July 05, 2018, 11:29:53 PM
Eddie Muller's intro

Eddie Muller's afterword