Short Cut to Hell

Watch Short Cut to Hell

  • Passed
  • 1957
  • 1 hr 29 min
  • 5.9  (305)

Short Cut to Hell is a 1957 film noir directed by James Cagney and based on the novel "The Asphalt Jungle" by W. R. Burnett. The story follows a man named Eddie (played by William Bishop) who is a small-time crook living in Los Angeles. He sees an opportunity to make it big when he learns of a plan to rob a high-stakes poker game being held in a wealthy gambler's mansion.

Eddie recruits his buddy, Larry (played by Robert Ivers), and a new partner, Pauline (played by Georgann Johnson), to help him carry out the heist. The three plan meticulously, trying to account for every possibility, but things start to go wrong almost immediately. Eddie begins to feel guilty and starts to worry about getting caught. Larry's personal life becomes increasingly complicated, and Pauline proves to be unreliable.

As the night of the robbery approaches, tensions between the three criminals escalate, and the heist becomes more and more dangerous. Meanwhile, the gambler who owns the mansion, played by José Torvay, becomes increasingly suspicious and starts to take measures to protect himself.

The film is notable for being James Cagney's only directorial credit. He brings a strong sense of style to the film, with lots of expressionistic camera angles and dramatic close-ups. The performances are solid all around, with William Bishop doing a particularly good job as the conflicted Eddie. Robert Ivers, who would go on to have a long career as a television actor, is also impressive as the volatile Larry.

One of the film's most notable aspects is its use of Los Angeles as a backdrop. The movie is filled with shots of the city at night, with its neon lights and bustling streets. The setting adds to the sense of danger and excitement surrounding the heist.

Despite being a fairly straightforward crime thriller, Short Cut to Hell has a lot of depth when it comes to its characters. All of the protagonists are flawed and conflicted, and the film does a good job of making the audience care about their fates. At its heart, the movie is a meditation on the allure and dangers of the criminal life.

One of the film's weaknesses is that it can be a bit slow-moving at times. The heist itself doesn't happen until fairly late in the film, and there are stretches where the characters are just talking and planning. However, the dialogue is well-written and engaging, so it doesn't feel like too much of a drag.

Overall, Short Cut to Hell is a solid film noir that will be enjoyed by fans of the genre. It's not as well-known as some of the more famous examples of the style, but it's definitely worth checking out. The film is stylish, suspenseful, and features some strong performances.

Short Cut to Hell
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 29 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    5.9  (305)