Odds Against Tomorrow (1959)

95-96 mins | Drama | November 1959

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HISTORY

Although John O. Killens and Nelson Gidding were given screen credit for the screenplay when the picture was initially released, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) restored the credit of blacklisted writer Abraham Polonsky in 1996. WGA's press release stated that the writers' credits should read: "Screenplay by Abraham Polonsky and Nelson Gidding, Based on the novel by William P. McGivern." According to a modern source, Killens was a front for Polonsky. HarBel Productions, Inc. was Harry Belafonte's independent production company. According to a Nov 1958 HR news item, Richard Widmark was in negotiations to co-star. Except for one sequence, the entire film was shot in New York City.
       An Oct 1959 HR news item noted that Gloria Grahame threatened a $100,000 lawsuit against United Artists, demanding that they refrain from using certain photos of her in publicity for the film on the grounds that they were candid and taken without her knowledge. The photographs were taken by co-star Robert Ryan. The outcome of Grahame's demand has not been determined.
       Harry Belafonte performs vocals on one of the picture's songs, "My Baby's Not Around." According to modern sources, John Lewis' score was performed by a large orchestra that included Milt Jackson on vibes, Percy Heath on bass, Connie Kay on drums, Bill Evans on piano, and Jim Hall on guitar. The Var reviewer commented on the presence of the word "ofay," a derogatory term for whites, in the film and also noted that the picture presented "a unique view (for films) of a normal, middle-class Negro home." The picture marked Wayne Rogers' film debut. Although not a crucial ...

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Although John O. Killens and Nelson Gidding were given screen credit for the screenplay when the picture was initially released, the Writers Guild of America (WGA) restored the credit of blacklisted writer Abraham Polonsky in 1996. WGA's press release stated that the writers' credits should read: "Screenplay by Abraham Polonsky and Nelson Gidding, Based on the novel by William P. McGivern." According to a modern source, Killens was a front for Polonsky. HarBel Productions, Inc. was Harry Belafonte's independent production company. According to a Nov 1958 HR news item, Richard Widmark was in negotiations to co-star. Except for one sequence, the entire film was shot in New York City.
       An Oct 1959 HR news item noted that Gloria Grahame threatened a $100,000 lawsuit against United Artists, demanding that they refrain from using certain photos of her in publicity for the film on the grounds that they were candid and taken without her knowledge. The photographs were taken by co-star Robert Ryan. The outcome of Grahame's demand has not been determined.
       Harry Belafonte performs vocals on one of the picture's songs, "My Baby's Not Around." According to modern sources, John Lewis' score was performed by a large orchestra that included Milt Jackson on vibes, Percy Heath on bass, Connie Kay on drums, Bill Evans on piano, and Jim Hall on guitar. The Var reviewer commented on the presence of the word "ofay," a derogatory term for whites, in the film and also noted that the picture presented "a unique view (for films) of a normal, middle-class Negro home." The picture marked Wayne Rogers' film debut. Although not a crucial element in the plot, one of the characters, a henchman of the mobster "Bacco," is portrayed as a homosexual who flirts with Belafonte's character, "Johnny Ingram."

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
PERSONAL & COMPANY INDEX CREDITS
HISTORY CREDITS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Aug 1959
pp. 478-79, 510
Box Office
12 Oct 1959
---
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1959
p. 3
Film Daily
5 Oct 1959
p. 15
Hollywood Reporter
20 Nov 1958
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
10 Feb 1959
p. 1
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 1959
p. 14
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 1959
p. 19
Hollywood Reporter
2 Oct 1959
p. 3
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 1959
p. 1
Los Angeles Times
12 Nov 1959
---
Los Angeles Times
30 Jul 1996
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Oct 1959
p. 436
New York Times
16 Oct 1959
p. 27
Newsweek
19 Oct 1959
---
Time
26 Oct 1959
---
Variety
7 Oct 1959
p. 6
Variety
9 Sep 1996
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Cam op
ART DIRECTOR
Settings
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and cond
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Mgr of prod
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Odds Against Tomorrow by William P. McGivern (New York, 1957).
LITERARY SOURCE AUTHOR
SONGS
"All Men Are Evil" and "My Baby's Not Around," words and music by Milton Okun and Harry Belafonte.
SONGWRITER/COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1959
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 15 Oct 1959
Production Date:
24 Feb--late Apr 1959 at Gold Medal Studios, Bronx, NY
Copyright Info
Claimant
Date
Copyright Number
Harbel Productions, Inc.
13 October 1959
LP15186
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
95-96
Length(in feet):
9,022
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19371
SYNOPSIS

In New York City, David Burke, a former policeman who once served a prison sentence, asks bigoted Southern tough guy Earl Slater to rob a bank with him, promising him $50,000 in small bills if the robbery is successful. Earl is reluctant to accept Burke's proposal but feels he needs the money to support his live-in girl friend, Lorry. Burke also tries to recruit Johnny Ingram, a nightclub entertainer who is hopelessly addicted to gambling, but Johnny turns him down. Undaunted, Burke visits Bacco, an Italian mobster to whom Johnny is deeply in debt. Shortly thereafter, Bacco stops by Johnny's club and threatens to kill not only the singer but also his ex-wife and daughter unless the debt is paid in twenty-four hours. The next day, Johnny takes his daughter Eadie to Central Park, and when he realizes that two of Bacco's men are following him, he calls Burke and agrees to help with the robbery. Meanwhile, Earl accompanies Burke to Melton, a small town along the Hudson River. Burke shows Earl the bank and explains that because payday is on Friday, the bank is full of cash on Thursday evenings. Burke adds that a black waiter brings sandwiches to the small staff at the same time each week, and only an aging guard stands watch. Earl refuses the job when he learns that Johnny, a "colored boy," is to take part in it, however. Lorry assures Earl that money is unimportant to her, but he remains gloomy, ashamed that she supports them both. Finally, he decides to meet with Burke, but before he goes, he makes love to Helen, ...

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In New York City, David Burke, a former policeman who once served a prison sentence, asks bigoted Southern tough guy Earl Slater to rob a bank with him, promising him $50,000 in small bills if the robbery is successful. Earl is reluctant to accept Burke's proposal but feels he needs the money to support his live-in girl friend, Lorry. Burke also tries to recruit Johnny Ingram, a nightclub entertainer who is hopelessly addicted to gambling, but Johnny turns him down. Undaunted, Burke visits Bacco, an Italian mobster to whom Johnny is deeply in debt. Shortly thereafter, Bacco stops by Johnny's club and threatens to kill not only the singer but also his ex-wife and daughter unless the debt is paid in twenty-four hours. The next day, Johnny takes his daughter Eadie to Central Park, and when he realizes that two of Bacco's men are following him, he calls Burke and agrees to help with the robbery. Meanwhile, Earl accompanies Burke to Melton, a small town along the Hudson River. Burke shows Earl the bank and explains that because payday is on Friday, the bank is full of cash on Thursday evenings. Burke adds that a black waiter brings sandwiches to the small staff at the same time each week, and only an aging guard stands watch. Earl refuses the job when he learns that Johnny, a "colored boy," is to take part in it, however. Lorry assures Earl that money is unimportant to her, but he remains gloomy, ashamed that she supports them both. Finally, he decides to meet with Burke, but before he goes, he makes love to Helen, an upstairs neighbor who is fascinated with him because he once killed a man. When Johnny's ex-wife comes by to pick up Eadie, Johnny declares that he still loves her. She seems to love him, too, but complains that his gambling makes him an unfit father. Angry, Johnny replies that by trying to fit into a white world, she is only fooling herself. Late that night, the three men meet at Burke's, and when Earl calls Johnny "boy," Burke reminds him that they are equal partners in the venture. The next day, each man travels to Melton separately, meeting near the river to discuss the details of the crime. Earl continues to insult Johnny, and Burke tries to keep the two from fighting. While waiting for nightfall, Earl shoots a rabbit, and Johnny worriedly flings stones into the river. At six o'clock, Burke arrives at the restaurant near the bank. He tries to upset the waiter's tray as he carries the food order to the bank, but some small boys bump the waiter instead, spilling the coffee and food into the street. Disgruntled, the waiter returns to the restaurant, whereupon Johnny, dressed in waiter clothes, knocks on the side door of the bank. When the guard opens the door, the three robbers rush inside. While Johnny and Burke stuff money into bags, Earl needlessly hits several of the frightened employees. Then, ignoring previously discussed plans, Earl gives Burke the car keys, unwilling to trust Johnny with driving the getaway car. As Burke leaves the bank, he is seen by two policemen, and when the burglar alarm sounds, shooting begins. Burke is shot, and because he now has the car keys, Earl and Johnny, crouching behind the corner, are unable to escape. Burke calls, "Run, Johnny, I'm sorry," and dies, whereupon Earl remarks that at least the old man will not be able to confess their identity to the police. Enraged, Johnny begins shooting at Earl, who manages to escape to a nearby oil refinery. Johnny pursues Earl to the top of an oil tank, and when the two fire on each other, the refinery bursts into flame. Later, as officials are viewing the charred bodies, one of them asks, "Which is which?" "Take your pick," replies the other.

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Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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