5 Against the House (1955)
Director: Phil Karlson
Cast: Guy Madison, Kim Novak, Brian Keith
Synopsis: Four vets attending college on the GI Bill and a cabaret singer try to rob a Rno Casino and pull off the perfect crime.
5 Against the House is way too talky for my liking. It seems to take forever for things to get moving, and the manner in which the characters are developed is laboured and clumsy. Al Mercer (Guy Madison), Brick (Brian Keith), Roy (Alvy Moore) and Ronnie (Kerwin Mathews) are the oldest kids on campus due to service in Korea, and some of them are finding it difficult to adjust. Rich brains Ronnie wants to make an impression on the world and sees robbing a casino as the way to do it. Brick, however, isn’t so keen on giving the money back afterwards, and he isn’t quite dealing with a full deck after his experiences on the battlefield.
Keith’s is the only marginally interesting character here but, while the others are bland, his is just mishandled. Writer John Barnwell, while treating the character sympathetically, doesn’t delve deep enough into why he is so troubled so Brick fails to engage the viewer’s sympathy and is too flimsy to be a decent villain. Alvy Moore’s Roy is intensely annoying, cracking lame jokes that even the other characters fail to laugh at, while Guy Madison, whose faltering career was already drifting towards TV and Italian westerns, simply works hard at looking handsome. The only real plus point is Kim Novak, who sings a couple of numbers and looks delicious. Oh yeah, and that weird stack-em-high car park shelf.
(Reviewed 15th August 2007)