Odds Against Tomorrow
Starring Harry Belafonte as Johnny Ingram, a nightclub entertainer who is addicted to gambling and gets involved with a bank robbery,
ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW was the first movie to be both directed and produced by
The 1959 film was extremely cutting-edge in its portrayal of racial prejudice, the underlying theme which distinguishes it from other crime films. Unlike THE DEFIANT ONES, another picture from the period with a similar focus, and even the book the movie is based on, written by William McGivern, the film does not have a sugar-coated ending in which everyone gets along despite their differences. In ODDS, Wise wanted to show the destructive side of hate. When the bank robbery fails and the two thieves bodies are charred, making one indistinguishable from the next, it is a comment on how people destroy each other with their hate.
The film also marks the last time Wise shot black and white film in the standard aspect ratioa filming formula which gave his films the gritty realism they were known for.
In New York City, David Burke,
a former policeman who
once served a prison sentence, asks bigoted Southern tough guy
Earl Slater to rob a
bank with him, promising him $50,000 in small bills if the robbery
Earl is reluctant to accept Burke's proposal but feels he needs
the money to
support his live-in girlfriend Lorry. Burke also tries
to recruit Johnny
Ingram, a nightclub entertainer who is hopelessly addicted to
Johnny turns him down. Undaunted, Burke visits Bacco,
an Italian mobster to
whom Johnny is deeply in debt. Shortly thereafter, Bacco stops
club and threatens to kill not only the singer but also his
daughter unless the debt is paid by the next day. The
next day, Johnny takes
his daughter Eadie to Central Park, and when he realizes that
two of Bacco's
men are following him, he calls Burke and agrees to help with
Meanwhile, Earl accompanies Burke to Melton, a small town along
River. Burke shows Earl the bank and explains that because
pay day is on
Friday, the bank is full of cash on Thursday evenings.
Burke adds that a
black waiter brings sandwiches to the small staff at the same
time each week,
and only an aging guard stands watch. Earl refuses the
job when he learns
that Johnny, a "colored boy," is to take part in it, however.
Earl that money is unimportant to her, but he remains gloomy,
she supports them both. Finally, he decides to meet with
Burke, but before
he goes, he makes love to Helen, an upstairs neighbor who is
him because he once killed a man. When Johnny's ex-wife
comes by to pick up
Eadie, Johnny declares that he still loves her. She seems
to love him, too,
but complains that his gambling makes him an unfit father.
replies that by trying to fit into a white world by, for example,
a mostly white PTA committee, she is only fooling herself. Late
the three men meet at Burke's, and when Earl calls Johnny "boy,"
reminds him that they are equal partners in the venture.
The next day, each
man travels to Melton separately, meeting near the river to
details of the crime. Earl continues to insult Johnny,
and Burke tries to
keep the two from fighting. While waiting for nightfall,
Earl shoots a
rabbit, and Johnny worriedly flings stones into the river.
At six o'clock,
Burke arrives at the restaurant near the bank. He tries
to knock into the
waiter who usually carries the food order to the bank, but some
bump the waiter instead, spilling the coffee and food into the
Disgruntled, the waiter returns to the restaurant, whereupon
in waiter clothes, knocks on the side door of the bank.
When the guard opens
the door, the three robbers rush inside. While Johnny and Burke
into bags, Earl needlessly hits several of the frightened employees.
ignoring previously discussed plans, Earl gives Burke the car
to trust Johnny with driving the getaway car. As Burke
leaves the bank, he
is seen by two policemen, and when the burglar alarm sounds,
begins. Burke is shot, and because he now has the car
keys, Earl and Johnny,
crouching behind the corner, are unable to escape. Burke
Johnny, I'm sorry," and dies, whereupon Earl remarks that at
least the old
man won't be able to confess their identity to the police.
begins shooting at Earl, who manages to escape to a nearby oil
Johnny pursues Earl to the top of an oil tank, and when the
two fire on each
other, the refinery bursts into flame. Later, as officials
are viewing the
charred bodies, one of them asks, "Which is which?" "Take
replies the other.
From the AFI Catalog of Feature Films
|95 min. HarBel Productions, Inc.; Distributed by: United Artists; Directed by: Robert Wise; Produced by: Robert Wise; Screenplay by: John O. Killens; Edited by: Dede Allen; Director of Photography: Joseph Brun; Music by: John Lewis; Production Design by: Leo Kerz; Sound by: Ed ward Johnstone; Costumes by: Anna Hill; Make-up by: Robert Jiras;|
|Harry Belafonte (Johnny Ingram), Robert Ryan (Earl Slater), Shelley Winters (Lorry), Ed Begley (David Burke), Gloria Grahame (Helen), Will Kuluva (Bacco), Kim Hamilton (Ruth), Mae Barnes (Annie), Richard Bright (Coco), Carmen De Lavallade (Kitty), Lou Gallo (Moriarity), Lois Thorne (Eadie Ingram), Wayne Rogers (Soldier in bar), Zohra Lampert (Girl in bar), Allen Nourse (Police chief Melton), Fred J. Scollay (Cannoy), William Zuckert (Bartender), Burtt Harris (George), Clint Young (Policeman in park), Ed Preble (Hotel clerk), Mil Stewart (Elevator operator), Ronnie Stewart (Man with dog), Marc May (Ambulance attendant), Paul Hoffman (Garry), Cicely Tyson (Fra), Lou Martini (Captain of waiters), Robert Jones (Guard at door), Floyd Ennis (Solly), William Adams (Bank guard), Fred Herrick (Bank manager), Mary Boylan (Bank secretary), and John Garden (Clerk)|