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Man in the Vault
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A LOCKSMITH IS FORCED TO CRACK A BANK SAFE DEPOSIT BOX IN ORDER TO SAVE HIS GIRLFRIEND FROM A RUTHLESS MOBSTER.
A film noir set-up unfolds in the opening minutes of Man in the Vault: while relaxing one night at a bowling alley, a humble locksmith named Tommy Dancer (William Campbell) finds himself dragged into a bank heist plot because of his dexterity with lock-picking. It only takes 72 minutes for Tommy's nightmare to unfold, and yet the storyline seems uncommonly convoluted; rival gangsters are involved, Tommy strikes a volatile match with a slumming Beverly Hills dame (Karen Sharpe), and a moll plays a seemingly extraneous role--not that there's anything wrong with that, when the moll is the young Anita Ekberg. The ultra-cheap production values deflate the effort to put some noir atmosphere into the thing, but the main problem is leading man Campbell, who was a cross between Vince Edwards and a young Tony Curtis, but without the attitude. (He had been in The High and the Mighty--like this film produced by John Wayne's Batjac company--and went on to many TV roles.) Still, there are moments, and director Andrew V. McLaglen tries to work some ingenious visual touches into the mix. Berry Kroeger makes a truly decadent villain, while Batjac regular Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez gives comic relief. The film comes very early in the credits of McLaglen and screenwriter Burt Kennedy, both of whom became associated with Westerns later in their long, fruitful careers. The movie keeps returning to the bowling alley ("Art Linkletter's La Cienaga") thereby setting up one of the strangest scenes of noir menace ever filmed. --Robert Horton
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Top customer reviews
that made great film noir gangster pictures great! The writing directing is excellent and the acting by some actors you've seen in
many movies and TV make this a good one. The lead actor who I never heard of and kinda looks like a young Cornell Wilde was
not a good choice but he's okay. The story about a guy who's tricked into helping the mob rob a bank and of course falls in love
with one of the girls involved with the gang! The ending is pretty good but no a surprise. It's become one of my favorite film noir
movies and I don't know why except it's just a above average story and made really well. Film Noir fans will love this one.
It's the kind of programmer that DVD boxed sets were made for, something you can't imagine any major studio releasing if they didn't have to pick it up as part of a package with The High and the Mighty and Hondo or anybody buying if it didn't come in a set with Track of the Cat. The Man Who Would Be Mitch is locksmith Tommy Dancer (they knew how to give characters names in those days), forced to break into a mobster's safety deposit box with the usual consequences. It passes the time inoffensively and efficiently enough, but it says something that the most memorable thing about it was the discovery that a restaurant on La Cienaga that I used to pass on my way to work every day used to be a bowling alley.
No extras whatsoever, despite an extract from the trailer featuring on other Batjac titles.
Tommy Dancer (William Campbell) is an unemployed professional locksmith, forced into assisting a daring bank raid, after his girlfriend Betty (Karen Sharpe), a feisty society debutante, is swept up into the plot.
Filled with some great performances, MAN IN THE VAULT is an enjoyable excursion into a shady world of corruption and greed, and never wears out it's brisk 70-minute running time. Both William Campbell and Karen Sharpe are attractive and well-used in the leads; with Anita Ekberg, Paul Fix and Barry Kroeger in strong supporting roles.
I will say that the scenes in the vault itself are pretty tense. The final scenes in the bowling alley are just lame and ill-conceived.
And again, everything gets sewn up in a tidy little package at the end - gangsters knock off other gangsters and get caught by the police. How convenient!
Skip it. Certainly don't buy it.
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