Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 23rd, 2016
Theatrical Release Date: USA, 1959
Director: Robert Wise
Writers: Nelson Gidding, John O. Killens (AKA Abraham Polonsky)
Cast: Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Shelley Winters, Ed Begley, Gloria Grahame, Will Kuluva, Wayne Rogers, Zohra Lampert
BluRay released: October 24th, 2016
Approximate running time: 96 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio / 1080 Progressive / MPEG-4 AVC
Rating: 12 (UK)
Sound: LPCM Mono English
Subtitles: English SDH
BluRay Release: BFI
Region Coding: Region B / Region 2 PAL
Retail Price: £19.99 (UK)
Odds Against Tomorrow was directed by Robert Wise whose other notable films include, The Day the Earth Stood Still, West Side Story, The Sound of Music and The Haunting. Key collaborators on Odds Against Tomorrow include, cinematographer Joseph C. Brun (Naughty Girl), composer John Lewis (The Tempest) and blacklisted screenwriter Abraham Polonski.
Film Noir has often delved into social commentary. It should not come as a surprise that Odds Against Tomorrow is anchored by social commentary related to racism. And this film would feature the first black protagonist in a Film Noir.
Besides the aforementioned social commentary, another area where this film excels is its meticulously laid out plot that if filled to the brim with tension. Also, there is a deliberateness to the pacing that reinforces the mounting tension. And when it comes to the character they are given an ample amount of time to establish who they are.
From a production stand point there is not a single area where this film does not excel. With one of this film’s most durable assets being its visuals. Needless to say, that this film takes full advantage of techniques that have since become synonymous with the Film Noir genre.
Performance wise the three main leads are the heart and soul of this film. Anchoring this superb cast is Harry Belafonte in the role Johnny Ingram, he has a gambling addiction has left him revelry in debt to a loan shark. The other two leads are Robert Ryan in the role of Earle Slater, his role in the heist is the getaway drive and Ed Begley in the role of Dave Burke, an ageing criminal dissatisfied with his life and the mastermind behind the heist.
The moments between Belafonte and Ryan’s characters are the most compelling and this is because of the racial tension due to Ryan’s characters’ hatred of Black’s. Overall Odds Against Tomorrow is an exceptional crime / drama that fans of Film Noir classic era are sure to thoroughly enjoy.
Odds Against Tomorrow comes on a 50 GB dual layer (44.1 GB) BluRay. This release has been flagged for progressive playback and the film is presented in its intended 1.33:1 aspect ratio. The source used for this transfer is in great shape. Contrast and black levels remain strong throughout and details are always crisp. Also grain looks natural and there are no issues with DNR or compression.
The release comes with one audio option, a LPCM mono mix in English and also included with this release are removable English SDH subtitles. The audio sounds clean, clear, balanced and robust when it needs too.
Extras for this release include, a trailer for the film (3 minutes 10 seconds), An appreciation with Adrian Wooten who discusses Odds Against Tomorrow (29 minutes 31 seconds), Odds Against Tomorrow post screening Q & A with actor Harry Belafonte (41 minutes 14 seconds), The Guardian interview: director Robert Wise at the National Film Theater (73 minutes 51 seconds) and The John Player Lecture: actor Robert Ryan at the National Film Theater (48 minutes 27 seconds).
Topics discussed by Adrian Wooten include, when compared to other Film Noir where does Odds Against Tomorrow rank, how the Film Noir genre changed by the 1960’s, the film was produce by Harry Belafonte’s production company, how the film used a black listed writer to write its screenplay, racism’s role in the film, shooting in New York, the look of the film, Robert Wise, the score and his thoughts about the film.
Topics discussed in the interview with Robert Wise include, The West Side Story, Val Lewton, Orson Welles, Citizen Kane, The Magnificent Ambersons, The Haunting and various other films he worked on.
Topics discussed in the interview with John Ryan include, The Set-Up, Crossfire, The Wild Bunch, Odds Against Tomorrow and various other films he worked on.
Rounding out the extras is a twenty-four-page booklet with an essay about the film titled Images of Resistance: Odds Against Tomorrow written by Tega Okiti, cast & crew information and information about the transfer. Also included with this release is a DVD that has the same content included on the Blu-Ray included as part of this combo release. Overall Odds Against Tomorrow gets a first rate release from BFI.