5 Against the House ★★½

An odd heist film that just doesn't work. The plot centers on four ex-Korean War vets currently in law school through the GI Bill. They decide to rob Harold's Club Casino in Reno, with the girlfriend of one along for the ride. More than half the film is taken up with their life on campus (with a corny sub-plot about the hazing of an underclassman), then it abruptly shifts to the heist in the latter third of the film. There are noir elements, a love story, a subplot about PTSD, and comedic commentary on college life. It keeps shifting focus, even though the elements are all interrelated.

A big part of the problem is that the four actors are way too old to be playing college students. Even accounting for the fact that they were war vets, one would still assume them to be in their early to mid-20s. But the actors are all much older and look it. Guy Madison plays the lead. Always pegged as a "pretty face" in his earlier films, he is now older but still good looking. His acting however is pretty limited. Brian Keith is the vet with PTSD, and a surprise is the actor who later played "Mr. Kimble" on the sitcom "Green Acres" - Alvy Moore, who plays the clown of the group and reminds me a lot of Eddie Bracken. It was a treat to watch Kim Novak before she became a big star, and although her part is not well-developed, you can tell she will be going places in Hollywood. She gets to sing a sultry nightclub number.

I saw this mainly for the cast, but it's definitely a movie that's not worth seeing twice. I did get a kick out of seeing the parts filmed on location in Harold's. It gives you a sense of how Reno casino life must've been in the mid-1950s and those are the most interesting aspects of the film.

I saw this via the Watch TCM app.