Odds Against Tomorrow: The Critical Edition (Film as Literature)

9780093582379: Odds Against Tomorrow: The Critical Edition (Film as Literature)

ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW (1959), which stars Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Ed Begley, and Gloria Graham, is written by blacklisted screenwriter Abraham Polonsky and directed by Robert Wise. The last great film noir of the black & white era, ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW reflects the author's strong social conscience--as racial conflict is portrayed as central to the failure of a bank robbery. This publication of the complete script of ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW blends the shooting script (written before the film was shot) and the continuity script (the elements which are contained in the finished film). The critical analysis draws extensively on specially conducted interviews with Robert Wise, Harry Belafonte, and Abraham Polonsky. Discussed din depth are the significance of a black protagonist within the film noir genre; the film's staus with African-American related cinema; the adaptation from William McGivern's novel; and the critically celebrated jazz score by John Lewis of the Modern Jazz Quartet.

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About the Author:

In 1947 Abraham Polonsky wrote the film BODY AND SOUL and was nominated for the academy award for best original screenplay.  In 1948 he wrote and directed FORCE OF EVIL, an acknowledged film classic starring John Garfield.  In 1951 he appeared before the House Committee on Un-American Activities.  Rather than naming names, he invoked his Fifth Amendment rights.  For the next sixteen years, he was blacklisted in Hollywood.  In the words of Martin Scorsese, "It's one of the great losses to American films and world cinema."   In 1953 the CBS television series YOU ARE THERE went on the air.  Each episode investigated a historical event as if it were breaking news.  The reporters included Walter Cronkite, Mike Wallace, and Bill Leonard.  And the writers were Jeremy Daniel, Paul Bauman, and Kate Nickerson . . . at least that's what the screen credits read.  The real writers were Abraham Polonsky, Walter Bernstein, and Arnold Manoff.  All three were blacklisted.  "The blacklist is a way of getting rid of your imaginary enemies . . .  I tell you, there has never been a time when the blacklist did not operate in America."  The words of Andrew Marvell as penned by Polonsky (in "The Tragedy of John Milton") seem to summarize best his feelings towards the event which molded his professional life:  "I am not eager, sir that my tombstone should read: Here lies a man who survived despite all.  He who dies after his principles have died, sir, has died too late." Polonsky's 88 years were eventful, the type of life one expects from a top notch writer and director.  Born of Russian Jewish emigrants in New York City, he practiced law, served in the OSS (CIA) during World War II, was a member of the Communist Party, was blacklisted, and survived to carve a film career against all odds.  His view of life was repeated often in his many scripts, but none was more poignant than the ending which he wrote for each YOU ARE THERE episode: "What sort of a day was it?  A day like all days, filled with those events which alter and illuminate our time . . . and you were there."  Abraham Polonsky died October 26, 1999.


"The linguistic irony of noir is that with few exceptions, it has always been a white style: that is to say, a style made by, for and about white people. What it rarely deals with race." -- David Ansen, film critic, Newsweek

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