A late noir, 1959’s Odds Against Tomorrow puts aside the femme fatales and husbands in distress in favor of an apparently simple crime—robbery for the sake of acquiring some much needed cash—and taps into the racial unease of the era that exists within the criminal element as well as anywhere else.

Directed by Robert Wise, Odds Against Tomorrow is produced by Harry Belafonte, who also stars in it as nightclub singer Johnny Ingram, a man whose gambling addiction has made him desperate. Not long out of prison, career criminal Earle Slater (Robert Ryan), is already frustrated by the banality of day to day life. Looking for a way out, Earle is receptive when corrupt ex-cop David Burke (Ed Begley) offers him the chance to take part in a bank job. Everything is agreeable until Earle learns it will mean working with a black man. Racism is on full display here; viewers may be uncomfortable as the N-word is used with ease.

Added by stunning black and white cinematography (the film’s exteriors of New York have a realistically stark feel) an oppressive atmosphere hangs over the proceedings. The solemn atmosphere extends to the impressive turns from the three leads. Particularly the hardened Robert Ryan who is as despicable as they come. Equally as impressive, Harry Belafonte as Ingram is a nuanced character, proud but angry, with conflicted ideologies around race and assimilation.

Racial tension constantly threatens to undermine the trio’s plan. Burke struggles to keep his warring associates from blowing up. Before the action begins, Robert Wise cranks the tension to eleven. The final scene illustrates the futility of bigotry. More than sixty years after its release, Odds Against Tomorrow feels as pertinent as ever.

Presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, this edition is sourced from the same 2K master used for other releases. The result is the appearance of light vertical scratches. The image isn’t as crisp as it could be but looks pleasing in motion. Contrast is strong throughout and blacks are inky.

The English 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio offers clean, clear and concise dialogue. Not surprisingly, Belafonte sings in his role as Johnny. As a fan of his music, its always pleasing to hear Harry sing anything.

English subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Audio Commentary by Author/Historian Alan K. Rode
  • Post Screening Q&A with Star/Producer Harry Belafonte: Chicago—August 1, 2009 (49:15)
  • Post Screening Q&A with Actress Kim Hamilton, Parts 1: Los Angeles—April 13, 2007 (9:25)
  • Post Screening Q&A with Actress Kim Hamilton, Parts 2: Los Angeles—April 13, 2007 (9:57)
  • Trailer (3:05)

Get your copy of Odds Against Tomorrow here