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Dave Purvis has pulled off an armored-car robbery with engineering precision, and has a few details to tend to before boarding a chartered airplane to take him to a life of ease and comfort; first he shoots a wounded gang-member, whose wife he is bedding, tosses another one to the police and betrays a third and is nearly home free. However, Los Angeles Police Lieutenant Jim Cordell, using his brain and playing hunches, and making use of the police department's scientific network of laboratory, switchboard, radio-patrol cars, wire-tapping and recording devices is closing fast.
A well-planned robbery goes awry, with tough cop Cordell in pursuit.
Richard Fleischer directed this compact thriller that stars William Talman as Purvis, a clever criminal mastermind who is employed by a gangster named Benny to pull off a daring armored car robbery because his mistress(played by Adele Jergens) is losing interest in him. What he doesn't know is that she is having an affair with Purvis! The heist goes wrong when a cop is killed, whose friend and fellow policeman(played by Charles McGraw) becomes determined to avenge. Meanwhile, Purvis kills Benny, and runs off with his mistress, in a desperate bid to escape capture. Well-directed film has good performances and exciting action. A model of its kind.
"Violent Saturday" director Richard Fleischer maintains momentum throughout his gritty, fast-paced, crime thriller "Armored Car Robbery." An obstinate Los Angeles Police Department detective wants to nab a ruthless career criminal for the fatal shooting of his partner during a daring, daylight hold-up. Most heist movies build up to the crime after the villains have invested considerable time and effort in setting up their score. This straightforward, efficiently fashioned B-movie, however, plunges the bad guys into action during the first third of the tale while the remainder of "Armored Car Robbery" depicts the chief villain's futile efforts to evade the authorities. Altogether, this nifty little RKO Radio Pictures' caper doesn't appear to be anything more than a potboiler, but Fleischer puts his serviceable cast through the paces without letting things simmer down. Essentially, Hollywood makes two kinds of armored car heist capers; those where the crime is an inside-job, and those where it is an outside job. "Armored Car Robbery" fits into the latter category. Fleischer and scenarists Earl Fenton and Gerald Drayson Adams keep things plausible throughout this tightly-plotted, 67-minute melodrama. Half of the plausibility here is the method of operation that the criminals utilize.<br/><br/>David Purvis (William Talman, later of TV's "Perry Mason" where he played the chief prosecutor) is a criminal mastermind obsessed with details. He plans to knock off an armored car at Wrigley Stadium in Los Angeles, and he sends the L.A.P.D. some false alarms so he can clock the time it takes for them to reach the stadium. Afterward, he briefs his gang, including Benjamin 'Benny' McBride (Douglas Fowley of "Battleground"), Al Mapes (Steve Brodie of "Badman's Territory"), and William 'Ace' Foster (Gene Evans of "The Steel Helmet") about the stick-up. Purvis describes the robbery as "a one-shot deal" worth a half-million dollars. Purvis stipulates he will take half of the $500-thousand haul, while the other three can split what is left between them. He orders them to "study this routine until it comes out your ears." Fleischer cuts to the following Tuesday when the crime takes place. Meantime, the concept of 'honor among thieves' doesn't apply here when we learn information that Benny doesn't know. Specifically, Purvis is making time with Bennie's high-maintenance burlesque hall dancer wife Yvonne LeDoux (Adele Jergens of "Blonde Dynamite") who wants nothing to do with Benny.<br/><br/>Fleischer cleverly stages the actual robbery. Wheeling up behind the armored car, Foster climbs out to tinker with the overheated engine of his old jalopy. At the right moment, they don gas masks and set-off a gas bomb. A stadium cashier alerts the police. Although Purvis had clocked the police response time at 3 minutes, L.A. Detectives, Lieutenant Jim Cordell (Charles McGraw of "The Narrow Margin") and his partner, Lieutenant Phillips (James Flavin of "G-Men"), are cruising in the vicinity. Cordell and his partner go into action with their revolvers blazing, and the criminals blast away at them, with Purvis dropping Phillips, but not before Cordell hits Benny. Mapes whips up in the getaway car, and the criminals take off with Cordell hot on their heels until Purvis stars his windshield with a bullet and a deliver truck crosses his path, forcing him to swerve and lose sight of them. Nevertheless, Benny is badly wounded and the hoods are rattled. Cordell gets gung-ho rookie Detective Danny Ryan (Don McGuire of "Humoresque") to replace Phillips. The police kill Foster but capture Mapes, and Ryan decides to masquerade as Mapes and find out what Yvonne knows about Purvis. The cops install microphones in her dressing room and wire her automobile, like Burt Reynolds and his team would later do the heroine in "Sharky's Machine." The final showdown at the L.A. airport has Purvis and Yvonne taking a chartered two-engine aircraft for parts unknown. The police warn the tower, and the tower halts the aircraft. Purvis thrusts his revolver into the pilot's neck, but an incoming plane prevents them from taking off, and the cops are breathing down Purvis' neck. Scrambling out of the plane, he hoofs it across the tarmac, but Cordell brings him down. Purvis recovers, but it's too late. The plane that kept them from taking off collides with him and kills him. Of course, this scene is nothing like a similar scene in the Charles Bronson thriller "Break Out" where a propeller shredded a guy.<br/><br/>"Armored Car Robbery" qualifies as a film noir melodrama owing to lenser Guy Roe's high-contrast photography, the gritty urban settings, and the paranoia of Talman's criminal experiences as the robbery unravels. The police procedural part of the action includes some pre "C.S.I.: Crime Scene Investigation" scenes where the laboratory technicians help point the detectives in the right direction. In many ways, the vicious brain behind the robbery foreshadows the kind of criminal that Robert De Niro portrayed in "Heat." The William Talman thug reprimands his accomplices for jotting down anything incriminating that could be used against them as a clue. Furthermore, he goes to extreme lengths to appear as invisible as possible, right down to slicing the labels off his apparel with a razor blade. Mind you, since the Production Code Administration was still calling the shots in Hollywood, "Armored Car Robbery" is rather predictable because you know that the hoodlums aren't going to get away with the loot. In other words, this is another crime-does-not pay movie. Nevertheless, despite his doomed future, the cunning villain emerges as a more interesting character than the cops chasing him.<br/><br/>"Armored Car Robbery" is well-worth watching if you enjoy heist thrillers.
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