My wife and I for a short time would sit down and watch a Film noir every Friday night. We called it Film noir Friday. Now I run Dungeons & Dragons for my 15-year-old son and his buddies on Friday nights. With the amount of writing I’m doing, and the other stuff entailed with publishing, and working at least 40 hours per week at the real job, and reading (critical to writing craft), and ensuring I leave four hours every Saturday to watch my Alma Mater, I don’t get a lot of time to watch old movies (or any movies).
There will not be a Film noir Friday this week, either. But—, TCM’s Noir Alley series is screening Odds Against Tomorrow (OAT) this weekend (Sun 12 a.m. and 10 a.m. EST). This is a notable entry for two reasons:
1) It is IMO the last film of the original Film noir cycle. Many experts claim the cycle ended in 1958 with Orson Welles’ Touch of Evil, but I’ve seen none of them deny that Odds Against Tomorrow is a Film noir. This is not a comment on the relative merits of the two films. My only argument is that Odds Against Tomorrow released in 1959 is a Film noir and should rate as part of the Classic period. For example, it is not a neo-noir like Chinatown. (If you are interested at all, I prefer OAT to Welles’ film)
2) It is one of a handful of classic Films Noirs to tackle the race issue. I know talk of race issues in the USA (and global) is exhausting. However, it is fascinating to look back. Back to a time before I was born from the perspective of someone who grew up in the 70s and 80s. I think it’s common to think these scabs weren’t picked at in the 40s and 50s (or maybe that’s just my narrow perspective?). But there were a few noirs that tackled it before or in the early days of the escalating civil rights movement. Crossfire (anti-Semitism) and No Way Out, come to mind. And OAT. I’ve seen these movies, but it has been years. I think I own Crossfire and I know I own OAT. I forget movies like I forget my own stories when I’m through with them (ask my wife, she knowsmore about what happens in Everything is Broken than I do!). But I am left with the impressions. And I recall Odds Against Tomorrow as the best race picture of the Noirs I’ve seen, and I recall Robert Ryan as being believable and fantastic as a disgusting racist.
I own the DVD, but I’m hoping to catch the Noir Alley screening to hear what Eddie Muller has to say about the film. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. The message hides in pretty good heist film, so even if you are tired of race and don’t share my fascination in looking back on the issue I think it is enjoyable on those grounds alone. Plus, it features Gloria Grahame in a small role. Gloria is always a good reason to check out a film.
One thought on “Film Noir Friday: Odds Against Tomorrow”
Don’t recall seeing Odds Against Tomorrow. Will check it out.
I think generally, historically speaking, we have no clue what racism or race relations were really like a generation ago. We weren’t there. It’s why history, fiction, and cinema is so important as a time stamp.