AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Guns, Girls and Gangsters
Director: Edward L. Cahn (Dir)
Release Date:   Dec 1958
Production Date:   late Apr--early May 1958 at Paramount-Sunset Studios
Duration (in mins):   70
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Cast:   Mamie Van Doren (Vi Victor)  
    Gerald Mohr (Chuck Wheeler)  
    Lee Van Cleef (Mike Bennett)  
    Grant Richards (Joe Darren)  
    Elaine Edwards (Ann Thomas)  
    John Baer (Steve Thomas)  
    Paul Fix (Lou Largo)  
    Carlo Fiore (Tom Abbott)  
    W. Beal Wong (Mr. Wong)  

Summary: In Las Vegas, as part of a robbery plan that ex-convict Chuck Wheeler and his cellmate, Mike Bennett, concocted while in prison, Chuck observes how casinos disburse their cash receipts to a bank’s armored car. To launder the heist’s take, Chuck intends to hook up with racketeering boss Joe Darren, who is having an affair with Mike’s wife, nightclub singer Vi Victor. Chuck then goes to a hill by a sparse stretch of desert highway and shoots out the passenger tire of Darren’s passing limousine, which forces the car to skid into the lot of a lone gas station. Chuck visits Vi that night after her show, but she refuses to speak to Darren for him, until Chuck reveals that he knows of their relationship and threatens to tell Mike. Later, when Vi telephones Darren and mentions that Chuck was responsible for the tire incident, Darren agrees to see him. Chuck meets Darren at the trailer of Chuck’s accomplice, petty criminal Lou Largo, and explains that the gas station in the desert is on the daily route that the armored truck takes to a Los Angeles bank. He admits to having shot out the tires of several cars at the same spot to determine how to get the armored truck to slide to a stop at the gas station. Chuck informs Darren that the heist, which they have planned for after the profitable New Year holiday, will be in excess of two million dollars, and Darren agrees to help. Later, Lou rigs Chuck’s short-wave radio to pick up the police transmissions from brief distances. Lou and Chuck then follow the armored truck and tape-record the regular check-ins between the truck and police dispatch. While Darren convinces Vi to help with the robbery, Chuck continues to monitor the armored truck’s daily trips, marking the time it passes the gas station. Chuck then sets Vi up at a motel across from the gas station, the Stage Coach Inn, run by husband and wife Steve and Ann Thomas, and over several days, Vi keeps a detailed log on traffic. Ann befriends Vi, who comes to envy the other woman’s security and happy family life with Steve. When Chuck arrives at the inn a few days later and checks in under an assumed name, Vi reports the traffic movement and that every day two policemen stop by the inn for coffee just twenty minutes after the armored truck goes by. Vi and Chuck are startled when Darren shows up that evening with the news that Mike has escaped from prison. Vi admits that she sent Mike a letter informing him that she intended to divorce him and marry Darren. Darren is outraged, but Chuck insists that the operation proceed and offers to protect Vi if she will run away with him to Mexico after the robbery. A statewide manhunt begins for Mike, who gets to Lou’s trailer and forces him to reveal Vi’s whereabouts before knifing him to death. Meanwhile, Ann invites Vi and Chuck to the inn’s New Year’s Eve celebration and asks Vi to sing. Later that day, Vi follows Chuck to his hilltop perch and pleads with him not to hurt Ann and Steve during the robbery, then agrees to accompany him to Mexico. That night while Vi and Chuck are at the party, Mike finds Darren and demands he drive him to the inn, before shooting him. When Vi and Chuck return to her cabin later, they are startled to find Mike. Chuck is angered over Lou’s murder and calls off the robbery, but Mike insists on taking Lou’s place. The police arrive shortly thereafter to report the discovery of Darren’s body, but only Ann and Steve are questioned. The morning of the robbery, Chuck situates himself on the hill as planned and shoots out the armored truck’s tire, and the driver reports their stop to the police dispatch as the truck skids into the gas station. Meanwhile, Mike ties up Ann and Steve and dresses as a mechanic, then guides the truck into the garage, where he shoots the guards. Vi gets hysterical when Mike declares he is killing Ann and Steve and Chuck agrees with the idea. Mike knocks Vi out and Chuck takes the Thomases out to the back of the inn. With only moments before the police are to make their regular coffee stop, Mike and Chuck don the guards’ uniforms, change the truck’s tire and continue on the route using the recorded check-in tapes to radio police headquarters. At the dispatch center, however, the police note that the truck is using old codes, not the codes issued for the new year. They report that the last correct check-in was just before the tire blowout at the inn and order roadblocks set up along the route. When Chuck and Mike spot the roadblocks, they hastily turn back to the inn. A police squad meets them there, and in a blazing shootout, Chuck and Mike are killed. After Vi revives and weeps over Chuck, Ann and Steve appear to reveal that Chuck let them go. As the police prepare to arrest Vi, Ann and Steve assure her they will testify on her behalf.  

Production Company: Imperial Pictures, Inc.  
Distribution Company: United Artists Corp.  
Director: Edward L. Cahn (Dir)
  Jack R. Berne (Asst dir)
Producer: Edward Small (Exec prod)
  Robert E. Kent (Prod)
Writer: Robert E. Kent (Scr)
  Paul Gangelin (Story)
  Jerome Sackheim (Story)
Photography: Kenneth Peach (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: William Glasgow (Art dir)
Film Editor: Fred Feitshans (Supv ed)
Set Decoration: Morris Hoffman (Set dec)
  Max Frankel (Prop master)
Costumes: Einar Bourman (Ward man)
  Vou Lee Giokaris (Ward woman)
Music: Emil Newman (Mus dir)
Sound: Jack Solomon (Sd)
  Henry Adams (Eff ed)
Dance: Jack Baker (Dances and musical numbers staged by)
Make Up: Layne Britton (Makeup)
Production Misc: George Rutter (Scr supv)
Country: United States
Language: English

Music:
Songs: "Anything Your Heart Desires" and "Meet Me Half Way, Baby," music by Buddy Bregman, lyrics by Stanley Styne.
Composer: Buddy Bregman
  Stanley Styne
Source Text:

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Imperial Pictures, Inc. 22/1/1959 dd/mm/yyyy LP12860

PCA NO: 19111
Physical Properties: Sd: Ryder Sound Services
  b&w:

 
Genre: Melodrama
 
Subjects (Major): Armored cars
  Ex-convicts
  Nightclub entertainers
  Racketeers
  Robbery
 
Subjects (Minor): Casinos
  Deception
  Gambling
  Gas stations
  Husbands
  Inns
  Jealousy
  Las Vegas (NV)
  Murder
  Police
  Prison escapes
  Revenge
  Rifles
  Romance
  Searches
  Tires, Rubber
  Trailers

Note: A Mar 1958 HR news item announced the production of Guns, Girls and Gangsters starring Mamie Van Doren for Vogue Pictures and lists Orville Hampton as the screenwriter. Hampton's contribution, if any, to the final script has not been determined. Vogue was another company owned by executive producer Edward Small and it is likely that a decision was made to produce the film under his Imperial Pictures banner instead of Vogue.
       According to a DV news item, band leader Ray Anthony, who was married to Van Doren at the time, was set for a role in the film. A Jul 1962 DV item notes that in 1960, Edward Small Productions and United Artists were sued for plagiarism by Art Estrada. The $150,000 suit claimed that a story, "Blueprint for Crime," written by Estrada and Steve Masino was offered to and rejected by Small, then sold to producer Al Gannaway. When Small's similarly themed Guns, Girls and Gangsters was released, Gannaway canceled his production. The case was settled out of court in Jul 1962 for $10,000. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   19 Jan 1959.   
Daily Variety   18 Mar 1958.   
Daily Variety   25 Mar 1958.   
Daily Variety   30 Dec 58   p. 3.
Daily Variety   20 Jul 1962   p. 7.
Film Daily   31 Dec 58   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   18 Mar 1958.   
Hollywood Reporter   25 Apr 1958   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   28 Apr 1958.   
Hollywood Reporter   9 May 1958   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Dec 58   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   10 Jan 59   p. 109.
Variety   31 Dec 58   p. 6.
Variety   20 Jul 1962.   

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
 
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