A beautifully refined exposition of New Wave technique and style, filmed on location in Anaheim and vicinity, using black-and-white film and post-synchronization to extract a maximum from the discourse.
The main character kills two guards conducting him to the airport, robs a bank under the pretext of rehearsing a film, and goes to the track to launder the money in straight bets.
The local gang boss is miffed and seeks him out. Fleeing this interest, the robber meets a librarian, takes her to the beach, and tends her orange grove.
A torpedo dies for bungling the attempt, the boss brings the robber into the gang with a promise of bigger loot and impunity, a string of robberies leads to the big caper at a country club.
Thus the main symmetry of the film. Girl wants out, boss calls cops, boss and robber die.
The humorous élan of the whole picture is characterized in one scene by a detective sergeant reading Law and Order, a magazine. Much of the brilliance is due to the locale and the means of filming it.
Hawks’ The Big Sleep is one of the many films remembered well. The great opening number is called “The Itch for Scratch”.