A motley gang of crooks, led by Johnny Clay (Sterling Hayden), devises a daring racetrack robbery with a possible pay out of $2m. The plan seems flawless, with Johnny determined that “no one will get hurt”. However, he hadn’t banked on a scheming dame or an annoying dog.
Told in a gripping faux-reportage style, the knife-sharp script was co-written by director Stanley Kubrick and hard-boiled novelist Jim Thompson.
Dialogue crackles with black humour, yet our sympathies are forced by a surprising humanity – each “good” character has a clearly defined motive for the robbery, while the “bad” guys (and gals) are solely driven by greed.
A breathless, hugely influential, near-perfect thriller.