The 1959 movie Odds Against Tomorrow culminates in a heist of this bank in Hudson, upstate New York. That door and clock are significant in the holdup scene.
I noticed the similarity between the woman walking down the street and one of my favourite Harry Callahan photographs, ‘Chicago’, 1961, dated only two years later than the movie.
Harry Callahan, ‘Chicago’, 1961
See my other posts on the photography in Odds Against Tomorrow:
Odds Against Tomorrow 1, Odds Against Tomorrow 2, and Odds Against Tomorrow 3.
Harry Callahan, Chicago 1961
When I was ‘young in photography’ this Callahan photograph made a deep impression on me. A monumental figure like a statue is plucked out of an everyday moment on a footpath. The ominous clock ticking away, its hand pointing at the woman, a de Chirico in Chicago.
What are the odds against finding its sister image made only a year or two before? The Robert Wise movie Odds Against Tomorrow was made in 1959 and has a brief shot of people walking past a bank – soon to be robbed – and a woman walking under a clock.
There is no connection between the two images, it’s just something I noticed, but curiously, the movie does have some of the fateful quality of the photograph. It’s about the racial bigotry which leads to the doom of its two main characters. A very visual film, the cinematography is so refined and beautiful it relates to Callahan’s still photography aesthetic. I did some posts on the movie which you can find at Odds Against Tomorrow 1, 2 and 3
For a Hollywood genre film Odds Against Tomorrow, 1959, was experimental and arty. The story hinges on the racial conflict between white man Ryan and black man Harry Belafonte. The opening shot was filmed on infra red film which bleached the skin of the racist character, played by Robert Ryan above. A moment after this shot he racially mocks a little black girl.
The movie’s director Robert Wise said this: I did something in Odds Against Tomorrow I’d been wanting to do in some pictures but hadn’t had the chance. I wanted a certain kind of mood in some sequences, such as the opening when Robert Ryan is walking down West Side Street…I used infra-red film. You have to be very careful with that because it turns green things white, and you can’t get too close on people’s faces. It does distort them but gives that wonderful quality—black skies with white clouds—and it changes the feeling and look of the scenes. -Robert Wise, from wikipedia.
See my other posts on the photography in in this film: Odds Against Tomorrow 1, Odds Against Tomorrow 2, and Odds Against Tomorrow 4
The 1959 heist movie Odds Against Tomorrow was mostly shot on location in New York city and upstate New York. The locations were carefully chosen, each scene plays out in very distinctive place. It gives the film a sense of reality, as if the events could be happening right next to you. In these shots the skyscrapers are composed in relation to the actors. They become like characters in the film, echoing the toughness of the bank robbers. The bottom two images could almost be still photographs, like portraits in Life Magazine.
See my other posts on the photography in this movie: Odds Against Tomorrow 1, Odds Against Tomorrow 3 and Odds Against Tomorrow 4
Odds Against Tomorrow is a 1959 film noir, a combination heist-movie and message-film (is that three genres?). It was directed by the great Robert Wise and starred Harry Belafonte and Robert Ryan, whose shadows you can see in these photos.
The climax is a chase through an oil refinery at night. Harry Belafonte is chasing down the racist Robert Ryan, to their mutual destruction. The sequence was lit – or perhaps sculpted is a better word – by powerful spot lights. The shots function as tightly composed still photographs. The cinematographer Joseph C. Brun had been nominated for an Oscar in 1953, and seeing these images, you can understand why.
See my other posts on the photography in this movie: Odds Against Tomorrow 2, Odds Against Tomorrow 3 and Odds Against Tomorrow 4