(1959)3Michael CostelloRobert Wise's noir heist is an interesting if not entirely successful project, most notable for Joseph Brun's crisp black-and-white photography and John Lewis' atmospheric jazz score. Reminiscent of Kubrick's The Killing (1956) in its unsparing portrait of a group of desperate amateur crooks, the film labors awkwardly with the theme of racism, hardly the most pressing problem of a trio whose lives are making a beeline for the gutter. Interestingly, executive producer Belafonte has given himself the most disturbed of these characters, a self-destructive musician, and the memorable scene in the mobbed-up jazz club is one of the most accurate depictions of that milieu on film. When the criminals head out of the city toward the small-town heist location, the film losses much of its urgency, as the bleakness of the rolling countryside emphasizes the grim absurdity of their mission. noir icons Robert Ryan and Gloria Grahame are joined by an excellent cast including Shelley Winters, Ed Begley Sr., and Cicely Tyson. Noted jazz pianist Bill Evans joins the Modern Jazz Quartet on the soundtrack.