A Step Out of Line (1971)

Genres - Crime, Drama  |   Run Time - 100 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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This early 1970's example of made-for-television filmmaking is a solid and oft ambitious example of the form. A Step Out Of Line takes what could be a standard heist thriller setup and turns it into a thoughtful, sometimes searing drama about what happens when the American dream curdles for its participants. Bernard McEveety's subtle direction give the performances room to breathe but creates a strong, well-calibrated visual framework for the story. When the film requires technical finesse, McEveety lives up to the demand: the heist sequence in particular is well-crafted and wrings the maximum tension out of its elements. However, the success of a film like this hinges on the quality of its performances. Thankfully, each of the actors playing the three conspirators gives a vivid, committed performance: Peter Falk offers an impassioned turn as the unlikely mastermind of the robbery plan while Vic Morrow effectively evokes a barely reined-in sense of desperation and Peter Lawford suffuses his familiar lounge-lizard persona with a believable weariness. All in all, A Step Out Of Line is a compelling mixture of drama and thriller elements that remains worthwhile for fans of made-for-television films.