Retired New York cop Dave Burke (Begley) has a failproof plan to rob a small-town bank, so he enlists the help of Earl Slater (Ryan), a bitter ex-con looking for a big payoff, and black nightclub crooner Johnny Ingram (Belafonte), a gambling addict heavily indebted to a mobster. Despite the corrosive rancor between Ingram and Slater, an unrepentantly hostile racist, the three agree to collaborate in the heist, which does not go according to plan.
Why we love it
This nail-biting noir features the estimable talents of Ryan, a progressive in real life who plays a noxious bigot to the hilt, and handsome singer-actor Belafonte, showing a decidedly less wholesome side here. Director Wise and writer Abraham Polonsky add complexity to both characters, detailing the gnarled emotions Slater has for well-meaning girlfriend Lorry (Winters) and sexy upstairs neighbor Helen (Gloria Grahame), while depicting Ingram’s barely concealed desperation, as he attempts to revive a marriage that’s crumbled due to his gambling habits. It’s all downhill from there, as everything goes awry on the day of the job. Considered one of the last bona-fide noirs, those in the mood for a tense, intelligent crime caper will like these Odds.