Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Armored Car Robbery


There’s a title for you, not overly dramatic but straight to the point. Like a listing in a textbook or something. And that’s exactly what this movie is, straight to the point. It’s only 67 minutes long, and it wastes none of them. There’s not a lot of time spent on characterization, but it’s not really needed. There’s the four tough guys pulling the heist, two tough cops going after them, and the floozie who is married to one of the robbers. What more do you need in film noir?

The robbery itself is no well-honed machine, it’s strictly smash and grab. They time how long it will take for the cops to arrive from the first disturbance (three minutes) and they work well together to overpower the guards, but of course something can always happen unexpectedly. And it does. The mastermind, though that’s a pretty generous word, is William Talman, who you will likely recognize as district attorney Hamilton Burger from the old Perry Mason TV series. I guess the dude got so fed up at losing every case to Perry that he decided to give it up and enter a life of crime. After all, if he’s arrested, all he has to do is hire attorney Mason and he’s guaranteed to get off!

The plan is to rob the armored car of half a million dollars as it prepares to leave a ballgame at Wrigley Field in Los Angeles. What? In Los Angeles? Yes! There was a Wrigley Field there, up until the late ‘60s. The California Angels (not today’s Angels, but another team) of the Pacific Coast League played there. The PCL was fully the equal of the other leagues back east, so I understand. A third major league, really. It’s a hoot to see the old vanished place. It was right in the middle of South Central, ground zero for the Rodney King riots. As you might expect, the old stadium was used in a ton of baseball movies, way too many to list. But if it was baseball, and it was before 1967, there’s a good chance it was filmed at Wrigley.

Anyway, things go sour almost at once. Just bad luck, really, but these guys never really planned for bad luck. A cop is killed, and one of the robbers, and from then on it’s the robbers on the lam and the cops using good police work to track them down. It ends in a gory accident (though the gore is not shown as it would be today, your imagination can easily see just how bad it was) at the airport. This was directed by Richard Fleischer, who went on from this B material to become a big-time director. He was the son of Max Fleischer, creator of Betty Boop!