ODDS is a movie that is bigger than its genre. A tight little caper film on the surface but more complex and layered with meaning. It deals primarily with racism as a theme but that’s not all there is to it. Far more than a simple morality fable, ODDS is filled with flawed and driven men who grow increasingly more desperate as things start to fall apart around them. Harry Belafonte plays a musician with an ambitious ex-wife and a weakness for the ponies. When a local loan shark threatens his young daughter, Belafonte gets mixed up in a heist planned by an ex-cop (brilliantly and sympathetically portrayed by Ed Begley) and aided by a hardass, racist ex-con (Robert Ryan.) There’s also an amazing cameo by Gloria Grahame as a sexy young mother who lives upstairs from Ryan and his girl (played by Shelly Winters.) There is this unbelievably hot scene where Grahame asks Ryan what it was like to kill a man and then becomes so aroused by his answer (he liked it) that she falls into his arms (“…just this once.”) Plus the film is full of wonderful footage of vintage New York streets. It’s really surprising to me that this film is not as well known as it should be. Another must-see that easily rates in the top twenty, if not the top ten, Noir flicks of all time.

Actress Kim Hamilton was the special guest. She played Belafonte’s wife in ODDS but she’ll always be hot young Mala in THE LEECH WOMAN to me. She did a short interview with Alan Rode and answered questions from the audience. She is still drop dead gorgeous all these years later and was gracious and entertaining.


Now, this hardly seems like a fair fight. ROBBERY is a fun, engaging little B flick with a sexy burlesque dancer, sharp snappy dialog, lots of shoot-em-up action, and concrete tough-guy Charles McGraw, but it’s not even in the same weight class as a film like ODDS. The title tells you the plot. Crooks knock over an armored car and McGraw tries to catch them. William Talman is wonderfully cold and creepy as the sociopathic brains behind the heist and I also liked Adele Jergens as the stone-hearted stripper who is married to one crook and sleeping with another, all the time wanting nothing but the green stuff. And, since it’s the LA contender in this match up, we are treated to lots of great old LA exteriors, including the site of the hold up, minor league ballpark Wrigley Field, which has since been torn down. There isn’t a thing wrong with this tasty little Noir trifle, except for the fact that it’s no match for ODDS.

This round goes to New York. No contest.


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