Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Day They Robbed the Bank of Peyton Place

Tonight's prime time lineup on TCM starts with Violent Saturday, at 8:00 PM ET. Lee Marvin, Stephen McNally, and J. Carrol Naish play three men who come into the lives of a small California town when they decide they're going to rob it one Saturday afternoon at closing time. What they don't realize, however, is that the town hsa a lot of secrets, just like Peyton Place, New Hampshire, and the movie combines the various backstories of the townsfolk with the robbery plot. It's also an excuse to give the viewer an all-star (or all semi-star) cast.

Unfortunately, it doesn't completely work, although it's always interesting seeing just how many different stories and actors they can cram into this sort of thing. In the case of Violent Saturday, that means Victor Mature as the town coward, who didn't serve in World War II and is ashamed of that fact; Sylvia Sidney as the town's kleptomaniac librarian; Tommy Noonan as the bank manager, who also happens to be a peeping Tom; and a nurse who could make everybody a peeping Tom. Perhaps the most fascinating story, however, is that of Ernest Borgnine. Here, he's cast as an Amish farmer who for whatever reason has decided to try to make a go of it in California (how many Amish are there in California, anyhow?). The Amish are, of course, non-violent by their religious teaching, but the bank robbers have decided that Borgnine's secluded Amish farm would be a great place to hide out after the heist. They do return, bringing violence with them, which might just make Borgnine rethink his pacifist stance....

Violent Saturday is, as I said, a movie that has problems. Lots of problems. But it's also quite fun and well worth seeing. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to have made it to DVD yet.

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