Richard Fleischer | 65 mins | TV | 4:3 | USA / English | PG**
A B-picture from the middle of the classic film noir era, Armored Car Robbery is perhaps most notable today for being one of the first films directed by Richard Fleischer, who would later call the shots on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Doctor Dolittle, Tora! Tora! Tora!, Soylent Green, and Conan the Destroyer, amongst many others.
To be honest, I’ve never seen a Fleischer film, and, like most cheap productions, Armored Car Robbery doesn’t seem to display much of a directorial voice. Which isn’t to say it’s badly done — there are some effectively tense sequences, and the titular act is well staged, plus some nice low-angle shots of the criminals scheming.
The story sees a gang of thieves go on the run after their plan results in the death of a copper. As ever, policemen are more important than anyone else when it comes to the effort exerted in investigating their demise, and so the dead guy’s partner is doggedly on the gang’s tail. The execution of his search at times makes the film feel like CSI: 1950s, as the cops track down the crooks via tyre treads, fingerprints, lipstick types, and so on.
A solid rather than exceptional film noir, Armored Car Robbery is worth a look for fans of the genre if they get a chance.
* Normally my review-titling rule is to go with the UK title and/or the title card on the version I watched (generally the same thing). But Armored Car Robbery is universally referred to by its US-spelt title (understandably). That said, UK prints did feature the correct spelling of “Armoured”, as per the one shown on BBC Two.