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on April 28, 2000
Hubert Cornfield's "Plunder Road" is the story of a carefully planned and flawlessly executed robbery of a train carrying a gold shipment on its way to the US mint. The script, written by actor Steven Ritch, who plays Eddie, a former car racer turned wheelman, is interestingly spare. There are long stretches in the film without dialogue, but the script is terse and incisive, in both its voice-over narration and dialogue. The cast includes Wayne Morris, who delivered a fine performance in Stanley Kubrick's "Paths Of Glory", and the legendary character actor Elisha Cook in the role of Skeets, a career criminal with dreams of escaping to Rio. All of the performances are generally low-key, but effective. Gene Raymond, as the mastermind of the job, makes for an interesting gang leader: a laconic, cynical, college-educated tough guy. The robbery sequence is very well done, and the rest of the film seldoms lets up in delivering suspense."Plunder Road" isn't quite on the level of John Huston's "The Asphalt Jungle" or Kubrick's "The Killing", but fans who like films about well-planned and perfectly-carried-out robberies that go awry shouldn't be disappointed by this fast-paced, well-written, and tightly-directed story.
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on May 18, 2001
A capable caper film distinguished by expert performances from a veteran cast. Gene Raymond's turn as the world-weary ringleader is especially noteworthy and a long way from his sappy, lightweight roles of the 1930's. Authentic war hero Wayne Morris is a likable co-conspirator, but unfortunately just two years away from an untimely early death. Professional loser Elisha Cook's presence guarantees a bad end to the best laid plans, and though the movie as a whole doesn't disappoint, the budget appears to be in the neighborhood of $50 tops, as the getaway truck revolves endlessly around Griffith Park. Director Hubert Cornfield looks to be aiming at a breakthrough film on the order of Stanley Kubrick's remarkably successful caper film of the year before, The Killing, but doesn't get it. Plunder Road simply lacks the imagination and panache of its predecessor. Nevertheless the movie merits a look for its spartan virtues, expert pacing, and capable cast.
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on December 2, 2013
Striking Cinemascope black and white photography and on-location filming around Los Angeles really enhance this low budget late fifties movie. The cast of veteran performers like Wayne Morris , Gene Raymond, and Elisha Cooke and newcomer Jeanne Cooper are are interesting and fun to watch in a caper film that is just a little different.
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on January 24, 2014
PLUNDER ROAD is a late-period, film-noir about a very-well planned heist staged by 5 men. They rob a U.S. mint train and steal 10 million dollars in gold bullion. They then split up the large haul into 3 concealed truckloads and go off into 3 separate directions in an attempt to trick the police with a perfect getaway. They then use 3 vehicles, a moving van, a freight truck, and a tanker filled with chemicals. Needless to say, being a film noir, we know that as events begin to unfold, they will be undermined and caught by circumstances beyond their control. Even though the plan they utilize is an excellent one, quirky events unravel and lead to their downfall. The film makes the most out of a very limited budget by dividing it's narrative into 3 major segments. The film's excellent cinematography is done by Ernest Haller, who also worked on GONE WITH THE WIND(1939),as well as MILDRED PIERCE(1945). Haller's cinematography displays an excellent use of chiaroscuro, which raises the film to a higher level that goes beyond it's small budget. Also, the cast is very good. The lead is played by Gene Raymond, who plays Eddie Harris, the college-educated mastermind behind the well, thought-out plan. Others in the cast include Wayne Morris, Elisha Cook Jr., Stafford Repp, and Steven Ritch, who also wrote the very tight screenplay. Jeanne Cooper plays Raymond's gun-moll, who arranges the gold to be melted down and cast into bumpers and hub caps, which are then placed on a Cadillac. The presence of 40's noir veterans Cook Jr. and Repp, who both played archetypal losers from various noir films from the 40's, gives the viewer a pervasive feeling of doom for this heist, despite the well thought-out plan. The basic irony of the film is that the criminals are ultimately defeated by their own elaborate safeguards. The final shot of the film underscores the fatally noir statement as it abandons it's characters to existential oblivion. After my 1st viewing of the film, I immediately watched the film a 2nd time and was able to pick up on specific clues from the narrative that display the irony of the events as they unravel. The script is very tight with many scenes with no dialogue, which only increased the tension as the film played out. It's running time is only 72 minutes and there is not even 1 wasted minute in the film. Also, the action begins immediately after the credits which draws the viewer into the heist in a heartbeat. The film is very well directed by cult favorite Hubert Cornfeld, who would later go on to direct the 1969 film, THE NIGHT OF THE FOLLOWING DAY, which starred Marlon Brando, Richard Boone, and Rita Moreno. As I previously mentioned, the running time is 72 minutes, it is filmed in anamorphic widescreen, with a 2:35 aspect ratio. In addition, the transfer to dvd is very good to excellent. This is one little gem that many have not yet picked up on and it's a delight! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! SMRZ!
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on June 9, 2013
The print quality could be better, but the story line and acting are solid in this noir thriller about gold thieves making their getaway from Utah to L.A.. For me, the best of the film is its scenes shot in L.A., showing it in all its smoggy late '50s glory, including a visit from the "Smog Patrol," which threatens to upset the thieves' plans, if doing nothing to abate the real cause of smog, which is incorporated into the final scene. Want to see some classic '50s cars? PR gives 'em to you in spades, including the one that trumps the robbers' final hand. Think "White Heat" on a lower budget with lesser stars but equally compelling and you get the idea. Now, Mr. Murdoch, how about sprucing this film up and re-releasing it for all to see in its original smoggy splendor?
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on May 6, 2001
Well worth a look, 'PLUNDER ROAD' is a tense little crime film that, like so many others did, got lost among the bigger name thrillers of the period. But despite it's relative obscurity the film is a highly entertaining yarn involving a group of thieves attempting to get away with an elaborate gold heist, while facing slim odds. No big names to speak of, an ostensibly low budget, and a cheeky title (a Mitchum reference?) do nothing to diminish the impact of this scrappy little gem. Check it out.
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on July 24, 2016
This one was a classic for the good old days of "midnight movies." It's something to watch to kill some time, but there's not much else. Except... As a former truck driver of older trucks - models from the 1940s through the 1980s - I really enjoyed the truck aspect of this movie in a "stroll down memory lane" sort of way. The vehicle sounds - engines, exhausts, transmissions, and the like - were the real thing and not just some overdubbed filler from a vault. A very classic movie for the theme "if the 'perfect crime' can go wrong, it will."
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on May 3, 2016
Genre: Caper 1950's
Stars: 4.5

Pros:
-Actors were good for their parts
-Didn't overextend effects or local
-Great storyline (you can guess the ending, but You still like it)
-Good use of "tricks" by the criminals

Cons:
-Nothing really

Overall: I loved the use of actors that normally play in a "character" roll to be more of a main character. Story good, fun and kept my interest. If you like "capers" I highly recommend it.
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on August 7, 2015
A group of men rob a train loaded with gold being sent to the mint. They load the gold into 3 vehicles and at timed intervals take 3 different routes to a place where they plan to meet up, melt down the gold and go their separate ways.
This was made during the time of the movie code that stated that people couldn't be shown getting away with a crime, so something different happens to each team that causes them to get caught. I had never heard of this movie until very recently, it features no stars nor a big name director but it does have a cool story that holds the viewer's interest.
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on March 21, 2015
I liked this because it had the word "road" in the title. If the opening scenes were any indication of the rest of the movie, I could rate it higher. But there is a lot of talking about each other's future with the big haul, yet you know these guys are not going to make it despite a seemingly beautiful plan. It's hard to spot solid gold wheel covers and bumpers in black & white, I guess. There are some "tense" moments (by 1950 standards) though no surprises. Liked the occasional location shoots, period vehicles and the fine cast. All may have been more exciting during its first run. If you are tired of watching A-list movies over and over, seeking fading leading stars and B-movie productions instead, it is worth a viewing.
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