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5 Against the House

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5 Against the House
Former war-time Army buddies now students in college decide to rip off a Reno casino.

Reviews

John Chard
He has a system you know! Four college buddies are out in a Reno casino when they mistakenly almost get arrested for a failed robbery. Upon proving their innocence, they hear a cop saying that robbing this particular casino is nigh on impossible. This gets young Ronnie thinking that it actually can be done, and sure enough he comes up with a fool proof plan that should be played out as a joke robbery. However, after letting his pals in on the plan, one of them, Brick, an ex army loose cannon, wants to do it for real. There are many good things about this Phil Karlson directed picture, things that made me particularly glad I paid no attention to the meagre rating on the IMDb and watched it with no expectation. The cast is very strong, Guy Madison, Brian Keith, Alvy Moore, a young pre swash buckling Kerwin Mathews and a sultry and gorgeous Kim Novak in only her second credited role. Location work at Lake Tahoe is easy on the eye and the story from John Barnwell (adapting from Jack Finney's novel) is a good one, with a kicker of an idea in how to rob a casino. I think that newcomers to the film should prepare for a more offbeat picture than what the plot synopsis hints at. It certainly has got tense moments, courtesy in the main from Keith's borderline psycho, but it's practically a talky picture with flecks of humour right up to the finale, where it all comes together without histrionics or fanfare. Phil Karlson, with the awesome Scandal Sheet on his CV, appeared on the face of it to be a good choice to direct, but although he has done crime/adventure/romance films very well before, blending those genres into one film was asking a bit too much. It's not bad directing, it's just an odd fusion that never really comes off, and it possibly stops the film from breaking out to a bigger and more appreciative audience. Karlson remains, though, a director well worth reappraisals because he has some excellent credits on his CV that are well worth checking out. Still, it's an oddity of sorts, and tagging it as a Noir picture is a bit of a stretch, but this is one that's definitely recommended for the pluses that do indeed far outweigh the minuses. 7/10

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