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‘Armored Car Robbery’ Movie Review **** 121307
The Work = ****
Directed by Richard Fleischer a couple of years before another successful 'Noir helmed by Fleischer: ‘The Narrow Margin’. This film shares the same leading man: Charles McGraw and in both films he plays a hard driven detective. Here, he is Jim Cordell and he and his partner have the misfortune of being near the titled armored car robbery as it is going down. (Minor spoilers ahead, this is your warning.) Actually his partner would seem to be the less fortunate of the pair, since he catches a few bullets while trying to stop the robbery.
The criminals get away but catch a few bullets of their own and find themselves on the run. Quickly their well laid plan unravels around them, thread by thread. Benny McBride (Douglas Fowley) put the score together bringing in an expert, Dave Purvis (William Talman). Unfortunately for Benny, Purvis is boinking’ his blond, leggy, wife, Yvonne (Adele Jergens). The plan, not surprisingly, goes to crap with Benny bleeding out from his gunshot wounds and Purvis figuring out how to get the funds to Yvonne. The other two members of the heist crew are Ace Foster (Gene Evans) and Mapes (Steve Brodie) both of whom seem to be in way over their head.
Jergens is great as Benny’s burlesque dancer wife who struts her stuff and thinks of many ways to get cash behind her husband's back. She looks the part, acts the role, and makes for a memorable femme fatale. Evans is reliable but probably the least memorable of the bunch of thieves. For some reason I thought Brodie was terrific as Mapes, the hood who wants to be number one but is just not tough enough for it. Talman works as the calculating Purvis, who seems to have planned out every angle. Of course he planned out every angle, including all of Yvonne’s which will certainly spell his downfall.
As the heist crew falls apart, Cordell and the rest of the law close in. McGraw is awesome as the hard driven detective, looking like something out of a dime store pulp novel. The loss of his partner and a steady stream of coffee fuel him on as he slowly but surely gets his men. McGraw never enjoyed the stardom of other noir leading men but made some terrific low budget flics (sometimes playing the hero, sometimes playing the lead). His gruff voice and tough looks were just made for these gritty films and it is a shame he wasn’t able to do more or even some more modern crime dramas in the 70s. The rest of the cast works out pretty well. Jergens is great as the ‘Armored Car Robbery’ wastes no time and plows ahead to its conclusion. As I say, the short run time only aids the film and if you can I recommend seeing this as a double bill with the Fleischer/ McGraw team up of ‘The Narrow Margin’.
I have no idea why this film is not available but can only hope that Warner Brothers will put it in one of their excellent Film Noir boxed sets that they keep releasing. Something like ‘Armored Car Robbery’ seems to exist only in the world of Noir. Too short and lean to be made today, it is as much a piece of history as it is a great low budget crime drama. Much as ‘The Devil Thumbs a Ride’ and many other low budget crime dramas are just itching to be released on DVD so too is ‘Armored Car Robbery’. Highly recommend.
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