Film Review: Armored Car Robbery (1950)

Also known as: Code 3, Code 3-A (working titles), Criminal Brigade (Portugal)
Release Date: June 8th, 1950
Directed by: Richard Fleischer
Written by: Gerald Drayson Adams, Earl Felton, Robert Leeds, Robert Angus
Music by: Roy Webb, Paul Sawtell
Cast: Charles McGraw, Adele Jergens, William Talman

RKO Radio Pictures, 67 Minutes

Review:

“You should see her workin’ clothes. Imagine a dish like this married to a mug like Benny McBride… the naked and the dead.” – Ryan

Richard Fleischer would go on to have a heck of a career. However, he first rose to prominence in the late ’40s and early ’50s when he turned his attention towards directing a string of film-noir pictures.

Armored Car Robbery is just one of four really solid noirs that Fleischer did. The other three being The Clay Pigeon, His Kind of Woman (he was uncredited for this one) and The Narrow Margin. I’ve reviewed all of these except for His Kind of Woman but I plan to revisit it soon.

This film teams up two classic noir heavyweights: Charles McGraw and William Talman. It also features Adele Jergens, who isn’t the most alluring femme fatale in noir history but still has a very strong presence and a certain beauty that seems more authentic and real than just some insanely beautiful dame slithering around her prey.

The plot sees a criminal named Purvis (Talman) recruit Benny to help him rob an armored car at Wrigley Field (the old Los Angeles one, not the famous Chicago one). Benny’s wife has been two-timing him and the man she has been sleeping with is Purvis, although Benny doesn’t know this at the time. The robbery goes sideways due to a passing police patrol. A cop is murdered in the getaway and the criminals escape. The dead cop’s partner, Lt. Jim Cordell (McGraw), makes it his personal mission to bring these criminals to justice. With all the pressure, the criminals become paranoid and things start to fall apart.

Armored Car Robbery is very typical of the RKO visual style in regards to their crime pictures. It feels like a gritty and edgy RKO picture, which for fans of classic film-noir, should be a very strong positive.

One problem with the film is that there was a better armored truck robbery a year earlier called Criss Cross. The stories themselves are different but it is hard to not review this film without citing the earlier one. That one was a Robert Siodmak picture and starred Burt Lancaster and Dan Duryea. While that film shouldn’t take anything away from this one, if you’ve seen Criss Cross first, this movie can’t help but feel a bit derivative.

The things that make this film work though are the talented cast, the direction of Fleischer and the crisp, high contrast visual style.

Rating: 7/10
Pairs well with: Richard Fleischer’s The Clay Pigeon, His Kind of Woman and The Narrow Margin.

Film Review: Radar Secret Service (1950)

Also known as: Radar-Geheimpolizei (West Germany & Austria)
Release Date: January 28th, 1950
Directed by: Sam Newfield
Written by: Baryl Sachs
Music by: Russell Garcia, Richard Hazard
Cast: John Howard, Adele Jergens

Lippert Pictures Inc., 61 Minutes

Review:

“G-Men . . . T-Men . . . and now . . . R-Men!” – film tagline

Man, where to start with this turkey?

It was featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and for good reason. It’s pretty dreadful but not completely unwatchable. It works well within the context of the MST3K episode and its films like this that are the best for riffing.

The story is about criminals who steal some uranium. So the government brings in these agents to track it down using new radar technology. It’s even more boring than it sounds but there is a sort of hokey charm about the film.

It obviously wanted to tap into the success of the James Cagney’s 1935 picture G-Men and the 1947 film-noir T-Men, which was a film made in a semidocumentary style. The film’s marketing presented the picture with a tagline calling these heroes “R-Men”.

It is interesting seeing the post-World War II paranoia that was normal at the time of this film’s release. Also, it tapped into the fears surrounding atomic material. Although, this doesn’t have the benefit of giant insects and a lot of awful forced perspective shots.

Radar Secret Service is pretty boring and uneventful. Yeah, it is a shitty film, there’s no denying that but it can be salvaged by watching it with the MST3K riffing of it.

So considering the awfulness of this picture, it needs to be run through the Cinespiria Shitometer. The results read, “Type 6 Stool: Fluffy pieces with ragged edges, a mushy stool.”

And no trailer on the Internet for this one, so I guess I’ll treat you to the MST3K episode that features the film.