Armored Car Robbery (1950) Classic Movie Review 181

Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Aged in the glass bourbon!

Welcome to today’s show, my name is John. As always you can subscribe to the show on Apple Podcast or wherever you get your podcasts. Also, there are links to social media in the podcast show notes. You can also go to classicmovierev.com to read notes, bios, and other random movie thoughts.

Today’s movie is Armored Car Robbery (1950). This is nice short Film Noir with a really good criminal and pretty a decent Femme Fatale. The hero was a cop instead of a private eye. iMDB.com rates this film 7.0[1] while Rottentomatoes.com has it at a 63 percent audience score[2]. This movie is definitely better than that. The battle between Charles McGraw as a cop and William Talman as a self-preserving criminal is worth the ride.

The January 1, 1950 issue of “Variety” said of the film that “RKO has concocted an okay cops-and-robbers melodrama…” Again, I think it is a little better than that, so let’s get going.

Actors

Returning

Tough guy Charles McGraw played the role of the determined police Lt. Jim Cordell. McGraw was first covered in the greatFilm NoirThe Narrow Margin (1952).

Douglas Fowley played love sick gangster Benny McBride. Fowley was first covered in Battleground (1949) where he kept losing his teeth.

New

Adele Jergens played burlesque dancer and multi-robber dating Yvonne LeDoux. Jergens was born in 1917 in New York City. Jergens wanted to be a dancer, and after high school, she found her way to Broadway. She was signed as a runway model, and with her beautiful legs she was racking up titles such as “Miss World’s Fairest” for the 1939 New York World’s Fair, “The Champagne Blonde,” and “The Girl with the Million Dollar Legs.” She continued to work on Broadway and with the Rockette’s. During “Star and Garter,” which was a burlesque review, Jergens was the understudy for famed stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. When Jergens replaced Lee, she was offered a Hollywood contract almost immediately.

She started on the bottom rung as eye-candy in films like Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943), Sweet Rosie O’Grady (1943), and Pin Up Girl (1944). She showed good comic talent in She Wouldn’t Say Yes (1945) with Rosalind Russell. She was in a musical, Down to Earth (1947), with Rita Hayworth which may have a heavy bearing on Xanadu (1980) the film that almost ended Michael Beck’s career. In Ladies of the Chorus (1948) she played Marilyn Monroe’s mother. She is also known for The Woman from Tangier (1948) and The Mutineers (1949).

In Film Noir, Jergens films include The Corpse Came C.O.D. (1947), The Dark Past (1948), I Love Trouble (1948), Edge of Doom (1950) and Side Street (1950). One of her better-known films is Armored Car Robbery (1950) where she showed her legs and sported the name, Yvonne LeDoux.

Sometime around 1956, she left the movie business. Jergens died in 2002.

William Talman played calculating criminal Dave Purvis. Talman was born in 1915 in Michigan. The family was well off, and Talman said he was wealthy enough that he had to fight his way in and out of public school every day. Talman was very athletic and became an accomplished boxer. He also played semi-pro baseball.

After high school, Talman was admitted to Dartmouth College where he first started acting. In his sophomore year, he wrecked a car he was driving, and the passenger was killed. It turned out that the car was stolen and Talman was asked to leave college.

Talman began acting on Broadway in the early 1940s and was doing quite well until he was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1942. He joined as a private, and after 30-months in the Pacific theater, he had risen to the rank of Major. His major work was managing sports teams and teaching theater. Following his war years, he returned to Broadway.

In 1949, he traveled to Hollywood and began a fantastic film career that is chocked with Film Noir classics. His best-known films during this period include The Racket (1951), Armored Car Robbery (1950), Smoke Signal (1955), Big House, U.S.A. (1955), One Minute to Zero (1952), and Two-Gun Lady (1955). His most well-known role is as the escaped psychotic killer and kidnapper Emmett Myers in The Hitch-Hiker (1953). In this film, directed by Ida Lupino, he was so psycho, I now have trouble watching him in other roles.

Beginning in 1957, Talman started the television role that he is most associated with, that of DA Hamilton Burger, who lost hundreds of cases to “Perry Mason” 1957-1966. Talman was off the show briefly after he was arrested at a wild nude party. Later charges were dropped, and he returned to the show.

Follow the end of the series, Talman traveled to Vietnam to entertain our troops. Upon his return, he discovered that he had cancer. Talman was the first star to make an anti-smoking PSA near the end of his life. He died in 1968 at the age of 53.

Story

Exterior scenes of Los Angles are shown until at last the camera points to City Hall. It cuts to inside and shows the communication and radio rooms working. Lt. Jim Cordell (Charles McGraw) gets a call that there has been a robbery and shooting at Wrigley Field. Wait, that’s in Chicago. Wikipedia says that the Los Angles Wrigley Field was built in 1925 and used by the Los Angles Angels, a farm team owned by the Chicago Cubs[3]. Cordell and his partner Police Lt. Phillips (James Flavin) head out.

Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Armored Car Robbery (1950)

At the ballpark, Dave Purvis (William Talman) is waiting. He calmly waits to see how long it will take the police to arrive. Ironically, he listens on the game on the radio which will help do him in. Once on scene, the police realize that it is a fake call, like many they have had lately.

Purvis takes a taxi to the theater where Yvonne LeDoux (Adele Jergens) is in a burlesque show. She has a real Virginia Mayo vibe going on. Purvis joins Benny McBride (Douglas Fowley) who is watching the show. McBride is married to Yvonne, but she has given the brush because he has no money.

Purvis and McBride go to a bar to discuss the robbery they are planning. Purvis says he is moving again, something that he does often. He gives McBride the number and makes him memorize it. Yvonne comes by, and McBride introduces his wife to Purvis. She says their marriage is no use because he is broke. When McBride is alone, he writes down Purvis’ phone number.

Purvis is at his apartment cutting labels out of his clothing when a smiling Yvonne shows up. They are pretty friendly. McBride’s suspension is confirmed. Purvis tells Yvonne that McBride is expendable. Purvis says soon he and Yvonne will be going away together.

The next night Purvis goes to McBride’s apartment to meet the members of the gang that have been recruited. The two other men are Al Mapes (Steve Brodie) and ‘Ace’ Foster (Gene Evans). Purvis gives them the low down on the armored car robbery. The two hands don’t want the job until they find out that Purvis is running the job. He says he will take half the money and the others will split what is left.

Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Armored Car Robbery (1950)

They go into the bedroom, and there is a map of Wrigley Field and the local area on the back of the window shade. Purvis says they only have three minutes to complete the job. It is set for Tuesday.

Purvis and McBride walk up in factory coveralls as the armored car pulls up. And it is an armored car, not a truck, more like a panel van. Mapes is waiting across the street in a getaway car. Ace is driving down the street in a beat-up Model T. When it breaks down, Ace distracts the guard that is waiting by the truck while Purvis and McBride pretend to watch the work in case there is any man explaining to be done.

The other two guards come out with some money and open the back of the armored car. Ace sets off a gas grenade, and the robbers jump the guards. The robbers put on gas masks and start loading the money into the car Mapes has driven over.

The police are called, and Cordell gets the radio call. They head for the ballpark. A gun battle breaks out when Cordell arrives. His partner is killed, and McBride is shot. The four robbers get away, and Cordell leaves his bleeding partner Phillips and chases the robbers. Cordell swerves to miss a truck and flattens a tire. He calls in help for his partner and gives a radio description of the getaway car.

Cordell goes to the hospital to see Phillips and is told that he has died. Cordell goes to talk to Phillips’ wife, Marsha (Anne Nagel). He can’t get his feelings expressed.

Detective Danny Ryan (Don McGuire) tells Cordell that they have found the abandoned getaway car. He has also been assigned to the case. Cordell is an ass.

They go to the car location under the bridge. They have left all of the gear, and there is a lot of blood from McBride. From the tire impressions, they know what kind of car they are looking for.

Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Armored Car Robbery (1950)

The four robbers are driving out of town disguised as oil workers. When they see a roadblock, Mapes tries to turn around but is forced back into line by a motorcycle cop. Purvis is mad a Mapes for not following his instructions. He slaps McBride trying to get him to look un-shot. They make it through the roadblock that is manned by the two least observant cops in the world. After they drive away, one of the cops sees McBride’s blood on his uniform. They blast off after them with sirens a blazing.

Cordell and Ryan are hanging out at the police Harbor Division office. The insurance man comes in, and Cordell is an ass to him. Cordell thinks the robbers are inside of the circle of cops and can’t get out.

Mapes is at a harbor dock getting a boat ready to leave. Ace is dividing the money while Purvis is giving first aid to the dying McBride. McBride wants a doctor. Purvis is planning on taking McBride on the boat with them. McBride comes out with a gun and demands his share of the money and a doctor. Purvis gets the jump on McBride and shots him. Purvis orders Mapes and Ace to load the dead body in the car and dump it. Ace makes the dump while Mapes stays behind and watches Purvis. Purvis says McBride’s share will go to his wife. When Mapes needles him, Purvis beats him down.

Ace runs the car off a pier by a warehouse. Before the car has sunk, a patrol car sees it sinking. Cordell and Ryan go to where the car when it. He rides on the running boards as they follow the tire tracks back towards the hideout.

The three remaining robbers are leaving when the police roll around the corner. The hide among the freight. Purvis orders Mapes to make a run for the boat. The cops are getting closer. He sends Ace next, and the police are almost on top of him. Ace trips and makes some noise. The police shoot him down on the dock above the boat. Cordell sends the harbor patrol after Mapes. Purvis runs the other direction.

Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Armored Car Robbery (1950)

Yvonne finds out that two of the gang are dead. Purvis is waiting in the bar when she comes into work. She contacts him via the pay phone. She doesn’t care that her husband was killed. Purvis tells her to meet him at his new place.

Purvis is in his new apartment at the motor court when Yvonne arrives. He has all of the money and could care less about the others. Purvis tells Yvonne that she will be interviewed by detectives and they can’t see each other until it is time for them to leave the country.

Ryan pulls the records on McBride and Ace. They start looking for Mapes because he was in jail with Ace. Cordell and Ryan start checking McBride’s addresses until they find the apartment where the plans were made. There is a picture of Yvonne in the bedroom. The plans on the window shade are gone. Cordell finds the phone number for Purvis that McBride wrote down.

Cordell and Ryan head to the motor court. Purvis is packing to leave and happens to see the manager bring the police to his door. Purvis takes the money and escapes out the back window. He gets away clean.

From the clothes in the room, the lab gives height and hair color. They also find out that there is theatrical lipstick on the collar. Ryan calls in and has identified Yvonne and that she was married to McBride. The catch the end of Yvonne’s show.

Mapes has connected Yvonne with McBride and suspects with Purvis as well. He goes to the theater and walks right past the two cops. Cordell spots him instantly.

Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Armored Car Robbery (1950)

The two cops ease into the seats next to Mapes. They grab him and get his gun. They take Mapes outside.

Once they get Mapes to the station, they start telling him he is going to get the death penalty for cop killing. One of the armored car guards identifies him. Mapes rats Purvis out and says Purvis is the killer. He also says Purvis has taken up with Yvonne.

Cordell orders Yvonne followed 24-hours a day. They bug her dressing room and car. Ryan and Cordell are listing to the dressing room tap when the manager comes in complaining that Yvonne is quitting without notice.

Cordell tells Ryan to pretend he is Mapes and try and frighten Purvis’ location out of Yvonne. Purvis comes in and sees the cop sitting with his girl. Ryan roughs her up, but she sees Purvis at the bar. She heads to the pay phone with Purvis in the next booth. Purvis tells her the man with her is a cop, and she should run out the back later. Yvonne gives Ryan the phone and shoves him in the booth. She runs out, and he follows. Purvis catches Ryan outside and pulls a gun on him.

They all load into the bugged car with Yvonne driving, Ryan in the front, and Purvis holding a gun in the back seat. Ryan starts sending street information to the hidden mike. Purvis is suspicion, so he has Yvonne pull over. He clubs Ryan with the gun after he says they are turning into an alley. They get out, and Purvis says they are going to the airport. Ryan tries to run for it, and Purvis shoots him in the back. He is stopped from finishing him off when a cop car comes near.

Purvis and Yvonne flee on foot as Ryan calls from help. Cordell gets there, and Ryan tells him the plan. Cordell heads for the airport.

Purvis and Yvonne make it to the airport where they have a pilot and a chartered plane. Cordell has ordered that no planes take off. The tower tells the pilot that the people on the plane are wanted. Purvis pulls the gun on the pilot and orders him to take off. The plane has to stop as another plane is landing. Cordell and the other cops pull up. Purvis makes a run for it, and they exchange shots. Purvis is flattened by the landing plane. He lies there dead with money laying all around.

Armored Car Robbery (1950)
Armored Car Robbery (1950)

Cordell goes to see Ryan in the hospital. He is happy with his new partner.

World-Famous Short Summary – Look both ways before you cross the runway

I hope you enjoyed today’s show. I really appreciate you spending the time listening. You can find connections to social media and email on my site at classicmovierev.com. There are links in the podcast show notes as well. This is an independent show, and there is a lot that you can do to help out. First, and most importantly jump over to Apple Podcast and give me a review. It really helps the show get found. If you want to comment, help, or recommend a movie, email me.

Beware the moors

[1] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0042206/
[2] https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/armored_car_robbery
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrigley_Field_(Los_Angeles)

Armored Car Robbery (1950)

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