TCM Pick for January: Film noir

Hold everything! Stop the presses! With barely one day to spare, just under the wire, I present to you my TCM film noir pick for January – Armored Car Robbery! Directed by Richard Fleischer, this fast-paced feature has a great cast, plenty of action, memorable dialogue, and one of my favorite noir endings. It airs on TCM on Tuesday, January 29th – you’ll want to see this one, trust me. Would I steer you wrong?

The plot:

Like two of my other noir favorites, The Asphalt Jungle and The Killing, Armored Car Robbery tells the story of an intricately designed heist that goes terribly, terribly wrong.

Favorite exchange:

Benny:  Don’t move – any of you. I’m gonna get me a doc. Don’t try to stop me, Dave. Hand over my share of the dough. Hand it over.

Dave:  You’re makin’ a bonehead play, Benny. They’ll pick you up sure. You’ll get us all in a jam.

Benny:  I’m in a jam now. I’m dyin’.

My favorite scene kicks off with this performance by "burlesque queen" Yvonne LeDoux.

My favorite scene kicks off with this performance by “burlesque queen” Yvonne LeDoux.

Favorite scene:

I like the scene that introduces us to three of the film’s key characters — the mastermind of the robbery, Dave Purvis (William Talman), his partner in crime, Benny McBride (Douglas Fowley), and “burlesque queen” (I’d have just called her a stripper) Yvonne LeDoux (Adele Jergens) – Dave’s girlfriend . . . and Benny’s wife. The best part of the scene is the exchange between Benny and Yvonne. Benny has just watched one of his wife’s performances and catches up to her in a lounge after the show. We’ve already learned that Yvonne has left Benny, a fact that she makes perfectly clear when she reluctantly joins him in a booth: “I told you it’s no use, Benny – talk’s no good.” And her contempt for her estranged spouse is evident when he asks her what she would say if he hit the jackpot. “I wouldn’t know what to say,” Yvonne quips, “it’d be such a shock.” And seconds later, when Benny tries to restrain her, reminding her that they are still married, Yvonne coolly extricates herself from his grip and replies, “As if I could forget.”

Other stuff:

William Talman (here, with Jergens) was looking out for others at the end of his life.

William Talman (here, with Jergens) was looking out for others at the end of his life.

William Talman was perhaps best known for playing the ever-unsuccessful DA, Hamilton Burger, in the long-running Perry Mason television series. A three-pack-a-day smoker, Talman was diagnosed at the age of 53 with lung cancer. Six weeks before his death later that year, Talman filmed a 60-second spot for the American Cancer Society, in which he urged viewers to stop smoking. “Before I die,” Talman said, “I want to do what I can to leave a world free of cancer for my children.”

Steve Brodie played one of the four men who carried out the robbery. Born John Stephens in Eldorado, Kansas, the actor changed his name when he was a fledgling thespian, adopting the moniker of the real-life New York saloon keeper who claimed to have survived an 1886 leap from the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River (leading to the catchphrase, “pulling a brodie”).

The film’s director, Richard Fleischer, also directed another Charles McGraw starrer (and a previous TCM pick of the month, The Narrow Margin).

The film has something else in common with The Narrow Margin – the screenplays for both pictures were penned by Earl Felton.

The quartet of criminals was hunted by a couple of cops played by Charles McGraw and Don McGuire. McGuire was also a director and screenwriter – he adapted the screenplay for Bad Day at Black Rock (1955), wrote Dial 119 (1950), and was nominated (along with co-writers Larry Gelbart and Murray Schisgal) for the script for Tootsie (1982). McGuire also appeared in several noirs in addition to Armored Car Robbery – Nora Prentiss (1947), Possessed (1947), and The Threat (1949).
Adele Jergens and her "Mr. Right," actor Glenn Langan.

Adele Jergens and her “Mr. Right,” actor Glenn Langan.

During her career, Adele Jergens was alternately labeled as “The Champagne Blonde,” “The Eyeful,” and “The Girl with the Million Dollar Legs.” She was married for more than 40 years to actor Glenn Langan – the couple met while filming Treasure of Monte Cristo (1949). Langan is perhaps best remembered for his portrayal of the title role in The Amazing Colossal Man (1957).

Watch for this goof: In a scene near the end of the film, when Don McGuire’s character, Danny Ryan, is questioning Yvonne LeDoux about Dave’s whereabouts. When she gives him a series of evasive answers, he grabs her wrist and slams her hand onto the counter – she’s holding a cigarette in that hand. The camera then cuts to Dave Purvis, who calmly ducks into a phone booth. About 10 seconds later, when we return to Ryan and Yvonne and see him release his grip, Yvonne’s cigarette is practically a butt.

Armored Car Robbery airs on TCM on January 29th (technically the early morning hours of January 30th). If you like noir, Charles McGraw, or just a good, fast-paced caper film, be sure to check it out. You only owe it to yourself.

~ by shadowsandsatin on January 27, 2013.

7 Responses to “TCM Pick for January: Film noir”

  1. Nice take on a flic i’ve seen several times and never tire of.

  2. I love, love, love “Armored Car Robbery.” So fast-paced that it seems to begin and end in little more than a blink of an eye. One of the greatest of heist films – plus Charles McGraw, Steve Brodie and Wm. Talman.

    As for poor Hamilton Burger, whose nickname must’ve been “Ham” because hamburger is what Mr. Mason made of him every week for years.

    • I share your love for Armored Car Robbery, Eve — I especially admire its economical direction; not a frame is wasted, yet all of the characters are well-realized. I think it contains my favorite William Talman role — he certainly was no Burger here!

  3. Adele Jergens’ brassy performance is a highlight in Armored Car Robbery. She was a fine Queen of the B movies. She played Marilyn Monroe’s Burlesque queen mother in the Columbia B film Ladies of the Chorus. And had a memorable bit as the tacky musical comedy star who’s upstaged and loses her job to Rita Hayworth in Down to Earth, one of Jergens’ rare forays into A films.

  4. Reblogged this on filmcamera999.

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