04 July 2012

Plunder Road ('57)

"If they ever hit a bump we're all angels."
a heist film from 1957
directed by Hubert Cornfield
Our grandparents were badasses because they watched hot little numbers like Plunder Road, a crackling 72 minute heist flick from '57. It's a lean piece of meat. The first 13 minutes are the mostly-silent heist of $10million in gold from a train. The title refers to the getaway route the crooks take for the next 40 minutes. The crooks (including Elisha Cook Jr.), six of them in three trucks, each carrying a third of the gold, try to stay cool and calm amid a minefield of gas stations, road blocks, and weigh stations. The heist is the narrative thrust; the movie peaks into the criminals' private lives only through chats they have with each other along the way. The small data given is enough to reveal the human beneath the criminal facade, and one can relate to the characters as people, but for only a short moment, because the movie never derails the crime action narrative -- mostly one's thoughts are of crime and escape.

Directed by Hubert Cornfield, who made about eight movies in his career, none very famous. I want to see his Lure of the Swamp, released earlier the same year. Story and screenplay by Steven Ritch, an actor, who acts in the movie, in fact. Cinematography by prodigious Ernest Haller, who shot Rebel Without A Cause, Gone with the Wind, Captain Blood, etc.
Bravo to everyone involved for the golden car trick. What is the earliest example of the golden car trick? This one seems early. They melt down their gold and make rear and front bumpers and hubcaps. This level of imagination feels high-concept modern.

And, how does the movie end? With a man jumping off an overpass.
This movie from the yesterday people of 1957 is for the 2013 people of tomorrow!!

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