Jolly Cinema > 11:30


Hugo Fregonese
Introduced by

Imogen Sara Smith


Tuesday 28/06/2022


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

This ferocious film noir, independently produced by Leonard and Robert Goldstein, proved to be Fregonese’s last Hollywood film, as well as the last time Edward G. Robinson played a toweringly malevolent figure. As Vincent ‘King’ Canelli, Robinson draws on the audience memories of Little Caesar and countless other gangster films, yet the evil he embodies is something new, born of the industrial-scale violence of WW2. In a brilliant opening shot, Fregonese presents Canelli as a caged animal clinging to the bars of his death-row cell; he is to be executed that evening, along with his neighbor Peter Manning (Peter Graves), a bank robber and cop killer who has $200,000 in loot hidden away.
With the help of his faithful gun moll (30s ingenue Jean Parker) and an emotionless lieutenant (Warren Stevens), Canelli stages a mad, bloody breakout from the execution chamber itself, taking a group of hostages with him as well as Manning, whom Canelli hopes will lead him to the stolen cash. But the escape turns out to be largely illusory, as Fregonese channels his characters through a succession of closed-off, windowless spaces, leading to an upper floor in a warehouse where Canelli and his gang will stage their last stand.
Cinematographer Stanley Cortez, shooting the first feature film on Kodak’s revolutionary high-speed black-and-white Tri-X stock, contributes images that rival the spatial complexity and prickly detail of his work on The Magnificent Ambersons, while looking forward to the strong, nearly abstract use of negative space that characterizes his contributions to The Night of the Hunter (a film with which Black Tuesday shares a mysterious family resemblance).

Dave Kehr

Cast and Credits

Sog., Scen.: Sydney Boehm. F.: Stanley Cortez. M.: Robert S. Golden. Scgf.: Hilyard Brown. Mus.: Paul Dunlap. Int.: Edward G. Robinson (Vincent Canelli), Jean Parker (Hatti Combest), Peter Graves (Peter Manning), Milburn Stone (Slocum), Warren Stevens (Joey Stewart), Sylvia Findley (Ellen Norris), Jack Kelly (Frank Carson), Hal Baylor (Lou Mehrtens), James Bell (John Norris). Prod.: Leonard e Robert Goldstein per Leonard Goldstein Productions, Inc.  35mm. D.: 83’.