Saturday, April 23, 2011


Four college buddies (2 Korean War vets, played by Guy Madison and Brian Keith, class clown Alvy Moore and studious Kerwin Matthews) take a quick trip to Reno where law student Guy Madison tries out a system for winning which fails, but the four witness a botched robbery attempt. Back on campus, Madison devotes his attentions to his girl friend, nightclub singer Kim Novak, and Keith tries to overcome his hair-trigger temper, exacerbated by his war experiences. But when they get hit by the "mid-semester whim-whams," Matthews, inspired by their Reno visit, comes up with a foolproof system for robbing the casino. He gets Keith and Moore involved, promising to pull it off as a spring break experiment, intending to give the money back. Madison and Novak go along for the ride, unaware at first of the plans for the heist, but by the time they get to Reno, Keith has gone a little bit nuts and insists at gunpoint that they all go along with the plan, and keep the money once they get it. Of course, the heist doesn't quite go as planned. Though released as part of a film noir set from Columbia, this isn't noir at all, it's a straight-ahead crime caper, with the added twist of college kids (albeit very mature looking kids--most of the actors were in their 30s, with Matthews the youngest at 29) and a crazy war vet being the protagonists instead of career criminals looking to pull off a last big job. The heist actually takes second place to characterization, and the planning is more exciting than the actual crime. All the actors are fine, though Madison, meant to be the central character, winds up the least interesting of the four guys--most surprising is Alvy Moore, best remembered as Hank Kimball on Green Acres, who is a solid comic relief sidekick. The very young Novak (pictured) is lovely, though the film might have been leaner without her character, who has little bearing on the film. [DVD]

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