Black Tuesday (1954)

  • Year: 1954
  • Released: 06 May 1955
  • Country: United States
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  • IMDb:
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  • Metacritics:
  • Available in: 720p, 1080p,
  • Language: Latin, English
  • MPA Rating: Approved
  • Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
  • Runtime: 80 min
  • Writer: Sydney Boehm
  • Director: Hugo Fregonese
  • Cast: Edward G. Robinson, Jean Parker, Peter Graves
  • Keywords: death row, prison escape, escaped convict, film noir,
73% – Critics
73% – Audience

Black Tuesday Storyline

Vicious gangster Vincent Canelli pulls off a daring prison escape just moments before going to the electric chair, taking with him Peter Manning – a bank robber and cop killer who was to die right after him. Taking several hostages along, they try to get their hands on the loot from Manning’s robbery to finance their escape from the country.—scgary66

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Black Tuesday Movie Reviews

Edward G. Robinson and Peter Graves going to extremes to evade the electric chair

A grim drama consistently going from bad to worse the whole way to the end, but very efficiently told and acted, and Edward G. Robinson makes one of his most interesting characters as the angry gangster who only knows one way of life which is the worst without any room for any human feelings at all. The priest character (Milburn Stone) is very interesting in this context, while Peter Graves as the second worst gangster ultimately takes matters in his own hands and proves himself a hero after all although in a negative way. It’s a very efficient getaway and hostage drama which will keep you biting your nails all the way, although you know it can only end in one way, no matter how perfectly they arranged their escape and almost managed it in spite of the inevitable fact in these operations, that something always must go wrong.

He’s going to go in style

This little known and little seen Edward G. Robinson film takes Eddie back to the days when he was playing some quite serious gangster roles. Caesar Enrico Bandello and Johnny Rocco don’t have a patch on his Vince Canelli in Black Tuesday.

Imagine if Little Caesar or Johnny Rocco being captured and on death row with bank robber Peter Graves both sentenced to die that day. Only Robinson has a very well conceived plan to escape at the last minute. He takes Graves along and the rest of those on that Green Mile, the others to throw confusion and buy time and Graves because Graves has hidden $200,000.00 from his last bank job and Robinson wants to flee the country in style with lots of spending loot.

Graves is no fool either. When he says the money is well hidden and only he can get to it, he’s not kidding.

Black Tuesday was shot on a shoestring budget and I’m sure what money they had was spent for a really good supporting cast of familiar faces. Standing out are Warren Stevens as one of the hired guns that helps Robinson crash the joint, Jack Kelly as a cub reporter who is one of many taken hostage and Milburn Stone as the prison padre taken hostage as well.

Both the prison escape scene and the final gun battle are well staged and brutal for the time. The film looks like it’s in need of restoration and I hope it gets it.

Ideal Late Night Noir

An interesting and surprisingly obscure prisoner-on-the-run crime drama, BLACK TUESDAY is perfectly suited for Late, Late Show viewing in the wee small hours of the morning, when much of the action takes place. Like KEY LARGO (also featuring Edward G. Robinson), THE DESPERATE HOURS and the PETRIFIED FOREST, the second half turns into a confined space stageplay. The large cast holed up in the even larger safehouse is game, however, and despite a few unintentionally funny and seemingly out of place romantic interludes, things otherwise generally remain taut. It’s like old TV home week as no less than three players from the Desilu stage (Vic Perrin and William Schallert from Star Trek guest appearances, Peter Graves from Mission: Impossible right next door on the lot) get significant screen time. Also look for Russell (The Professor) Johnson in a minor part. Graves in particular has a much more emotive adult part than he customarily got (other than Stalag 17) and he goes for it with gusto, if not much panache. Still, Robinson is at his melodramatic “Where’s your messiah now?” best here, blithely slapping broads, torturing gunshot victims and going out in a Little Caeseresque hail of bullets / blaze of glory.

Seasoned noir veteran Sydney (SIX BRIDGES TO CROSS, ROGUE COP, UNION STATION, THE HIGH WALL and most notably, THE BIG HEAT) Boehm’s script is not brain surgery (the prison breakout is dazzlingly improbable) and is frankly a bit derivative of movies like Cagney’s KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE and Bogey’s HIGH SIERRA. Also, they obviously didn’t spend much on production values. Still, there is no one more iconic in this kind of capo titti capi role than Edward G. Robinson and given the lack of exposure this movie has had in the last 40 years, seeing Robinson’s performance is akin to unearthing buried noir treasure. Any fan of Edward G. should immediately seek out this elusive screener because his vicious performance is nothing short of breathtaking, and trumps any of the limitations of this movie.