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Movie Critique - Armored Car Robbery

Stars: 4 / 5

Recommendation: A hidden gem of a film noir in the classic cops and robbers plot, definitely showcasing William Talman, although doesn’t have the greatest title; but leaves you entertained well.

Armored Car Robbery is a 1950 American heist and film noir starring Charles McGraw, Adele Jergens, Douglas Fowley and William Talman in the lead cast. It was directed by Richard Fleischer and produced by Herman Schlom. Based on a true story written by Robert Angus and Robert Lees, screenplay was written by Gerald Drayson Adams and Earl Felton.

Dave Purvis (portrayed by William Talman) devises a scheme to rob an armored car, and forms a gang with Benny McBride (portrayed by Douglas Fowley), Mapes and Foster. Purvis is also having an affair with Benny's wife Yvonne Le Doux (portrayed by Adele Jergens). However during the heist Purvis kills a cop and escapes with the loot. The dead cop's partner Lieutenant Jim Cordell (portrayed by Charles McGraw) takes up the case to bring the killer of his friend to justice.

I wouldn’t have watched this film if not for William Talman. We all remember him best for his role as Assistant District Attorney Hamilton Burger in the original TV series Perry Mason that aired between 1950s and 1960s. Having seen him as a ruthless prosecutor but still failing in every single case of his when he is pitted against Perry Mason, I wanted to see how he did in other roles. And I ended up finding a marvelous and under-rated film noir.

The original story was written based on a true heist of $500,000 at Rubel Ice Company in 1934. The title seemed rather odd for me although it came out as a good heist film in the end. However there was zero chemistry between Talman's Purvis and Jergens' Yvonne which looked very very staged. And yet they made good partners when it came to the crime. She made a perfect femme fatale for Purvis' mastermind.

Hard-boiled detective Lieutenant Jim Cordell (portrayed by Charles McGraw) and his new partner Detective Danny Ryan (portrayed by Don McGuire) are your typical film noir cops with long suits, fedoras and a swag in their walk even if they are running behind a criminal. 

The film is shot on location at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles and other places. I always thought Wrigley Field was in Chicago. Apparently until 1967 there was a Wrigley Field in Los Angeles which served a minor league.

A hidden gem of a film noir in the classic cops and robbers plot, definitely showcasing William Talman, although doesn’t have the greatest title; but leaves you entertained well.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Movie Trivia:

a. According to TCM's Eddie Muller, this film was often shown as the bottom-half of a double feature with Columbia's The Good Humor Man (1950).

b. Detective Danny Ryan (portrayed by Don McGuire) when connects the robbers to Yvonne comments that situation as "The Naked and the Dead" referring to Norman Mailer's 1948 novel. It was made into a film in 1958, 8 years after this film was released.

2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:

a. Yvonne throws her coat on the sofa when she comes to visit Purvis and it lands haphazardly. However in the very next scene, the coat is neatly folded and lies on the far end.

b. When Det. Ryan is shot by Purvis, his coat is all bunched up behind him. However when the next scene is shown his coat is all straightened out.


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