Category Archives: Australian crime film

Snowtown

2010 was a great year for Australian crime film. In addition to the excellent Animal Kingdom, last year saw the release of the neo-noir Western,  Red Hill, and the gritty revenge flick, The Horseman.

While one can argue the merits and otherwise of aspects of these films, all three were highly original, energetic attempts to put an Australian face on some of key sub-genres of crime film.

Interestingly, all three were also made by first time directors.

This trend appears set to continue in 2011 with the yet to be released Snowtown, first time director Justin Kurzal’s take on one of Australia’s worst serial killing sprees, the ‘Snowtown murders’.

For those who need to be brought up to speed, the Snowtown murders, also known as the ‘bodies in the barrels murders’, involved the killing of 12 people between August 1992 and May 1999. The crimes were discovered when the remains of  8 of the victims were found in barrels of acid in a disused bank building in Snowtown, South Australia, a small economically depressed area 145 kilometres north of Adelaide.

Four people were eventually arrested for the murders. The ringleader, John Bunting, was a white trash suburban psychopath with neo-Nazi leanings who hated gays, pedophiles, very fat people and drug users.

The victims were killed, often tortured beforehand, on a whim for perceived infringements of Bunting’s personal code. They included friends and relatives of the killers. Usually, the victims social security and bank details were obtained and the murderers continued to collect their benefits after their deaths.

As a rule, I ‘m not usually a huge fan of true crime film, but if the menace Kurzal has managed to cram into this very short teaser trailer is anything to go by, Snowtown it looks pretty compelling. The vibe I get from it is similar to the 1998 Australian film The Boys.

Loosely based on another real life crime, the rape and killing of a young nurse in Sydney, The Boys focused on the 24 hours leading up to the crime, in which violent psychopath Brett Sprague (brilliantly played by Aussie actor David Wehnam), is released from prison and returns to his long-suffering mother’s house in Sydney’s western suburbs.

It’s been several years since I’ve seen The Boys, but I remember the ominous, claustrophobic feel produced as Speague, accompanied by a moody score by Australian jazz bad The Necks, prowled the interiors of the mother’s flimsy fibro house like a ticking time bomb, bashing her boyfriend, abusing his girlfriend, and winding up his two brothers. From the very first frame there’s a sense bad things are going to happen, that in no way detracts from the horror for the viewer when they do.

The Boys attempted to examine what kind of people would commit such a horrendous crime and the environment that would produce them. Snowtown looks set to cover similar terrain, hopefully with similar effectiveness.

Snowtown will premier at the Adelaide film Festival in late February.

Animal Kingdom

There’ll come a day when the Australian film and television industry will have to create a special award for Melbourne’s crime families in recognition of their services in providing so much rich material for screenwriters. Present to accept the award will be whatever members of the Pettingill family who are not dead or incarcerated.

For those readers not familiar with the name, the Pettingill family were Melbourne’s most notorious crime family. They were involved in drug dealing, murder and armed robbery. Two of the sons stood trial in 1998 for the shooting of a couple of Victorian police officers. They were acquitted but are still widely suspected of committing the killings.

Their exploits have also formed the basis for some of the country’s best crime television, including the ABC series Janus and Phoenix, and more recently the film, Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom is the best known of the three Australian crime films released in 2010. Unusually for an Australian film, not only has it received international critical acclaim (including a Golden Globes nomination for actress Jacki Weaver),  it was a success locally.

Most interestingly, Animal Kingdom, along with Red Hill and The Horseman, the two other local crime releases in 2010, were all made by first time film directors, a big improvement on the lackluster Australian crime cinema scene in 2009.

After his mother’s heroin overdose, 17 year-old Josh (James Fresheville) has no choice but to live with his grandmother Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody (Weaver) and her family who he has not had contact with for years.

Doubts about the wisdom of this arrangement are apparent from the first morning Josh wakes up in his new surroundings to find Uncle Baz (Joel  Edgerton) counting out the proceeds of the latest armed robbery on the kitchen table as Janine makes orange juice.

Gradually, we meet the other uncles. Uncle Craig (Sullivan Stapleton) is a tattooed, twitchy drug dealer. The youngest uncle, Darren, is like a beaten dog struggling to keep the last vestiges of his decency (and sanity) from being sucked dry by his siblings.

But they are wall flowers compared  Uncle ‘Pope’ (Ben Mendlesohn). On the run from the armed robbery squad who have the entire family under 24-7 surveillance, Pope is an old-school heist guy and sociopath completely unable to deal with normal society.

As the film’s title suggests, Josh and his pretty and naive girlfriend Nicole (Laura Wheelright) are like slow-moving animals amid the snarling pack of carnivores that is the Cody crime family

The only one with any brains or common sense is Baz. He can see the family’s power is on the wane and wants to go legit. His subsequent murder by rogue cops is the signal for all hell to break loose.

In revenge, Pope, Craig and Darren kill two police, escaping in a car stolen by Josh. Police quickly finger the younger member of the Cody family as the weak link. Even though Josh can tell he’s in deep shit, he totally underestimates the lengths his uncles will go to cover their backs.

I have to admit to not being all that taken by Animal Kingdom when I saw it soon after its release. In particular, I thought that the bumbling efforts by the police to protect Josh lessoned the film’s dramatic pace. As did the fact that the uncles get off the wrap for murdering the cops with such apparent ease.

These things still bugged me a little second time around but they’re small beer compared to the film’s strengths. The look of Animal Kingdom is great. I can’t remember a film where Melbourne looked so downbeat and gritty.

While aficionados of Pettingill’s clan’s previous cinematic outings will recognise many of the characters, writer and director David Michod seems to breath new life into them.

The stand out performance is Weaver’s turn as the scheming matriarch,  looking after her boys with barely contained Incestuous lust. She is the glue that holds the film together. The brothers all put in solid performances, particularly Mendlesohn’s ticking time bomb portrayal of Pope. Guy Pearse is good as Leckie,the kind-hearted but ineffectual cop trying to close the Cody family down.

As Josh’s girlfriend Laura Wheelright managers too pull off being both vulnerable and jaded. She’s the perfect foil for Fresheville. His character has shut so much of himself down, to the point where he almost appears to be sleep walking through the film. It’s a logical reaction to his day-to-day existence, first with his heroin addicted mother, then with his adopted family.

Fresheville’s performance mirrors one of the most unsettling aspects of Animal Kingdom, the way that so much of the film’s plot unfolds with little context or for the most part explanation about what’s going on.

One day Josh is living with his junkie mother, the next he shared digs with a notorious crime family. The death of his mother, the exploits of the Cody family, police corruption, the legal system,  nothing is reasoned or analysed. They just happen.

The effect is deeply unsettling.

Hardcore Horseman

The Horseman is about the transformation of a balding 44-year old small businessman into a killing machine as he tracks down the men he holds responsible for the death of his daughter. She died after participating in a hard core porn film, a video cassette of which mysteriously appears in his post one day.

This 2008 film, which only got local release in Australia in 2010, taps into a rich vein of movies about tightly wound white men who’ve played by the rules all their lives but finally snap over one injustice against them (perceived or real) too many.

It immediately reminded me of Paul Schrader’s Hardcore, which featured a conservative mid-west businessman (played by George C Scott) who ventures into the sordid LA underworld to look for his run-away daughter now making porn movies. But although both films are about men taking justice into their own hands when the police prove ineffectual, The Horseman is a very different beast to its 1979 counterpart.

The Horseman opens with the central character, Christian, a pest exterminator, beating up a man with a crowbar. After extracting a few answers, Christian douses the man’s house in petrol and sets it on fire, presumably with his victim still inside, changing from his work clothes as it burns in the background.

Christian spends the rest of the film traveling up and down the Queensland coast, his journey interspersed with memories of his daughter as a child, locating the men connected with the movie. Each encounter gives him just enough information to move to the next.

He confronts and for the most part kills the men he comes into contact with, including the distributor, the cameraman, and the actors. There is genuine ambivalence in his first decision to kill but it quickly becomes easier and his methods get more and more extreme. This is fueled by the fact that virtually none of the men are repentant and their taunts that Jessie, the daughter, came to shoot of her own free will. It’s the one thing Christian absolutely does not want to hear.

The only break in the killing occurs when Christian reluctantly picks up Alice, a young runaway, to whom he can be the sort of father figure his biological daughter rejected.

The film, populated by an almost completely Queensland cast, was shot by first time Australian director Steven Kastrissios on a budget of eighty grand. Not too shabby an effort in anyone’s books.

Critics singled out the violence for particular criticism. There’s certainly no shortage of it; knives, pliers and a blow torch are some of the weapons of choice. There are a lot of fight scenes, some of them unnecessarily drawn out.

That said, the film is well shot and Kastrissios gets good performances from his unknowns, particularly Peter Marshall. As Christian, he brings the required everyman quality and look to the role although his rapid transformation into a cold-blooded super killer able to hold his own against hardened criminals undermines this authenticity.

The contrast with Hardcore’s Jake Van Dorn, couldn’t be greater. Van Dorn’s violent side emerges gradually and the results are mild compared to Christian’s killing spree.

Van Dorn hires a cheap private eye, Andy (another fantastic performance by Peter Boyle), to find his daughter after she goes missing on a church retreat in California. Reluctantly, Van Dorn makes the decision to enter the world of pornography by masquerading as a porn producer casting actors in order to get close to his daughter.

At the conclusion of Hardcore, the daughter willingly accompanies her father home. Even if Christian’s daughter were alive you get the feeling there’d be no such happy ending. It soon becomes clear Christian doesn’t really want to understand what his daughter did, he just wants to punish the people he holds responsible.

The DVD extras on The Horseman contain a couple of deleted scenes that would have added a lot to the film. This includes a confrontation between Jessie and Christian in which she taunts him over the affair with his secretary that presumable led to the dissolution of his marriage, and threatens to move out. There a palpable sense the daughter is already involved with the men who will eventually contribute to her death.

The two films have a number of other interesting differences.

It’s been a while since I watched Hardcore, but I vividly remember the scene where Andy, in an attempt to explain to his client what has happened, takes Van Dorn to a sleazy porn theatre screening the film with his daughter in it.

It’s a throw back to the time when you had to physically go into a cinema to watch porn film rather than just click three times on your computer mouse. These days, anyone with a hand-held camera and some willing participants can make it and load it onto the web.

The setting for Schrader’s film is the sleazy world of theatres, sex shops and peep shows that used to inhabit the inner urban sections of many cities. The danger in The Horseman lies in the outer suburbs and the bush along the Queensland coast, home to pockets of entrenched disadvantage and one of the most casualised workforces in the country.

Indeed, it’s easy to see Christian as one of the army of independent contractors who flourished over the decade of conservative rule in Australia before being hit hard by the financial crisis in 2007. His wife has left him, business probably sucks, he’s got mortgage stress up to the back teeth and his daughter hates him.

Perhaps this was part of the point Kastrissios was trying to make. If so, he doesn’t quite get there.

This review is the second in a series looking at Australian crime films of 2010. The first, Red Hill, can be viewed here. The third, Animal Kingdom, will appear before the New Year.

Red Hill

It’s not clear exactly how to label Australian director Patrick Hughes’ début film, Red Hill. It is part spaghetti Western, part noir-infused revenge flick, part Blacksploitation, and part Australian mariachi shoot ’em up.

It doesn’t really matter. What’s important is it works, more than any other Australian crime film I have seen for a while (and, yes, that includes Animal Kingdom).

Young police officer Shane Cooper (True Blood’s Ryan Kwanten) and his pregnant wife (Claire van der Boom) have moved to the dying country town of Red Hill.

It’s only Cooper’s first day on the job, but already his boss, Sheriff Old Bill (Steve Bisely) is being an asshole, everyone is taking the piss out of him for being from the city and a mighty storm is blowing Red Hill’s way.

But the weather’s not the only thing about to turn nasty.

As Cooper walks into the police station to report for duty, a TV in the background is reporting that accused wife murderer and attempted cop killer Jimmy Conway (Tom E Lewis from The Chant of Jimmy Blacksmith) has broken out of a nearby prison.

Soon the town is buzzing with speculation that Conway is heading to Red Hill to exact his revenge on the man who put him away, Old Bill. The Sheriff puts together a posse of red necks and local businessmen to defend the town.

“We all know what we’re dealing with,” Old Bill intones as he passes out the guns. “Jimmy Conway rides into town, he’ll bring hell with him.”

The new boy in town, Cooper is assigned to protect the route into town judged least likely to be used by Conway. There’s no prize for guessing what happens. and soon Conway is rampaging through the town dispatching Old Bill’s men and unearthing secrets.

Hughes makes the most of the breath-taking location (the Victorian town of Omeo and its environs). The action is well-directed and fast paced. The soundtrack, part-Morricone, part Australian cock rock also works well with the material.

Casting Lewis as Conroy gives the role a certain gravitas, even if his role is a little too Terminator-like, and allows the film to cover some interesting plot territory. Bisely is great as Old Bill. Kwanten holds also his own.

The only disappointment is the complete under utilisation of van der Boom. She was great in the 2008 Australian film noir, The Square, but in Red Hill she gets absolutely nothing to work with.

It’s the one failure in an otherwise spectacular first film.

The Square: small town noir Australian style

Tales of money, betrayal, lust and murder set in the underbelly of rural small town life are a major thematic strand of film noir. Australia’s contribution to this, released locally to mixed reviews in 2008, is The Square.

The location selected by first time director and writer Nash Edgerton is the central coast of New South Wales, where the laid back life-style and stunning countryside exist side by side with pockets of deep poverty and a highly casualised workforce.

The opening scene of The Square takes place at dawn. Two people are having sex in the back seat of a car to the accompanying drone of cars crossing a nearby overpass. They finish, pausing long enough for us to notice their wedding rings, before going their separate ways.

The man, Ray, pulls into a clearing in the middle of thick bushland and enters the portable office from which he is supervising the construction of a resort for honeymooners. The young woman, Carla, drives to her job in a hairdressing parlour.

Before long, Ray is getting a hard time down from Gil, the developer (long time Australian actor, Bill Hunter) for failing to keep costs down. There’s no need for anything fancy, Gil tells him, all they are building is a place were “couples can root in Jacuzzis”.

But it’s hard keeping costs down when you’re systematically embezzling the project, a fact we discover when Ray asks a concreter for a $40,000 kickback in exchange for giving him the contract to pour the resort’s foundation.

After work, Carla goes home to her husband, Greg, a tow truck driver with a nasty attitude, an old mother and a sports bag full of drug money he keeps in compartment in the roof of their laundry. It only takes one furtive glance of her husband handling the money for Carla to decide this is a deal changer. She suggests to Ray that they steal it and blow town together.

Ray hesitates, unsure how they can steal it without alerting her husband. “You’d have to burn the place down if you really want this money to disappear,” Ray says, adding that he’s joking. “I’m not,” she shoots back with a palpable sense of desperation.

When Ray equivocates further, Carla brings out one of the oldest plays in the book.

“This isn’t about money. I want you to do something. Something,” she says before storming off.

Ray eventually agrees to go along with Carla’s plan, meeting up with local arsonist Billy (co-writer, Joel Edgerton) in a Chinese restaurant. Billy makes small talk about the bull sharks that swim up from the sea into the town’s river, before agreeing to burn down the house for half his fee up front.

The crime is set to take place while the entire town (including Carla and her husband) is attending the local Christmas Carols by Candlelight. Carla has already removed the bag of money. But sipping chardonnay with his wife among the gum trees and fairy lights, Ray has second thoughts. He tries to abort the arson but fails when his mobile runs out of power.

Next thing Ray knows the local fire brigade, who have also been attending the festivities, are speeding off to attend to the blaze. What he doesn’t find out until next morning is that Greg’s mum was sleeping in the house as it burnt to the ground.

“Ray, we have killed someone, we’re murderers,” says Carla in genuine shock. Also alarmed is the arsonist, Billy, who only agreed to burn down a house, not murder someone. To make matters worse, Billy tells Ray in no uncertain terms he wants the rest of his money or else.

Carla’s husband has figured out the drug money was not in the house when it was burnt down and has his own suspicions about who took it. Meanwhile, Ray gets a Christmas card from an unknown source claiming to know what he and Carla did and asking for $10,000 or they’ll go to the police.

Ray believes the card is the work of a shifty local mechanic. The mechanic discovers Ray attempting to break into his house. The two men fight and Ray accidentally kills him and buries the body in the square of land that is soon to be the resort’s foundation.

Ray realises he has killed the wrong man when he gets another card. As if this isn’t bad enough, torrential rain is preventing the concrete from being poured, every hour increasing the possibility the mechanic’s body will be found.

For the most part, Edgerton handles the mounting complexity of cross and double cross well, building the tension gradually throughout the film. He only loses his grip in the finale, a bloody confrontation between Ray, Carla, her boyfriend and Billy the arsonist in the lounge room of Carla’s house. This scene has an almost Cohen brothers black comedy feel that is completely at odds with the stripped back neo-noir feel of the rest of the film.

While the script has its clunky moments, Edgerton also manages to get good performances from a cast of mostly relative unknowns.

David Roberts gives a good performance as a tightly wound everyman, whose greed and philandering have led him into events beyond his comprehension. He may be cunning, but he’s no match for the town’s redneck criminal underclass he suddenly finds himself up against.

Ray stumbles clueless throughout much of the film. The only thing saving him is the intervention of others, including his boss Gil, who in the process of discovering Ray is stealing from him, uncovers the real culprit behind the blackmailing Christmas cards.

Claire van der Boom is excellent as Carla. Although her character has many of the hallmarks of the classic small town femme fatale, she manages to inject much more into the role. While she is prepared to use her considerable sexual appeal to get what she wants, she manages to keep us guessing throughout the film about whether she’s just playing Ray or genuinely in love with him. Whatever the case, it’s impossible not to sympathise with her efforts to get more out of life than a dead end job and cooking dinner for her husband’s sleazy poker playing mates.

The Square is not a brilliant film. But despite its faults the movie is a worthy addition to the small club of Australian cinematic offerings that can claim some sort of noir status.

This piece originally appeared in Back Alley Noir’s Film Noir of the Week in July 2010.

Money Movers: unearthing a rare Australian noir

There’s a lot of justified hype about the period of Australian film from the mid-seventies to the mid-eighties known as “Ozploitation”, when the creation of film funding bodies and the introduction of government tax breaks to encourage investment in the industry saw an explosion of local production.

But there was one genre of movie the Ozploitation period did not do well or often – crime.

One of the few exceptions is Bruce Beresford’s heist movie, Money Movers. Adapted from the novel of the same name by an ex-security officer, like a lot of films from the Ozploitation period, Money Movers completely flopped when it was released in 1979.

Unlike like a lot of the Ozploitation movies that have since gone on to enjoy critical and cult acclaim, Money Movers remains little known or appreciated, despite a dvd version being released in 2004. This is a pity because Money Movers is proof Australia could knock out a noir as gritty and multi-layered as the best of them.

Its hardboiled feel is established in the opening scenes, muster time in the counting house of Darcy’s Security Services. The armoured car drivers exchange jokes and take a last drag on their cigarettes before going on the weekly bank run. Two of them, Brian Jackson (iconic Australian actor Bryan Brown) and his brother, Eric (Terence Donovan), head of security at Darcy’s, pause to observe money being unloaded from a truck with particular interest.

This is juxtaposed with shots of management, or the “armchair drivers” as those on the shop floor derisively refer to them, and images of the (then) modern paraphernalia of security in operation: mesh grills being electronically lowered, lights flashing, doors being buzzed open.

On the road, one of the trucks parks for the drivers to a take a lunch break. On their return, they are jumped by men wearing clown masks and brandishing sawn off shotguns. The only man to resist is Dick Martin (Ed Devereaux). He gives a good account of himself before being clubbed. His resistance marks him out someone who won’t be intimidated even when he’s dealing with a bandit who has just gunned down an innocent bystander in broad daylight.

The robbers are next seen pulling into an old garage. No sooner have they cracked open their first celebratory beers than they are finished off by a henchman working for the mastermind behind the operation, Henderson (another veteran Australian actor, Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell), who has no intention of sharing the take.

Meanwhile across town, a secretary hands the CEO of Darcy’s a note (made up of cut and pasted newspaper letters, no less), informing them the counting house will soon be robbed. The note forces management to fast track new security measures – if they can get them past the opposition of the local trade union.

They are not the only ones worried. The Jackson brothers along with the emphysemic head of the local union are planning to rob the counting house and are not happy with the prospect of competition.

Eric Jackson has been working on the job for five years, taking his time, making sure everything is right, much to the chagrin of his hot-headed brother. “By the time you’re ready, well be rushing into the counting house in wheel chairs,” Brian tells his cautious older brother. Now their hand has been forced and they have to move quickly.

As they talk, the three men leaf through the personnel files of new recruits to the company for some clue about who might be trying to muscle in on their job. Their main suspect is Leo Bassett (Tony Bonnor), a young urbane man patently out of place patrolling industrial back lots in the middle of the night.

To bank roll their plan, Eric Jackson knocks over a cosmetics factory patrolled by Darcy’s, in the process killing one of his own security guards. Next he prowls Bassett’s pad for evidence linking him to the note, unaware it is also under surveillance by Henderson’s goons. They capture Jackson, find the replica of the Darcys’ armoured car he and his brother are working on, and realise what they are up to.

With the help of some bolt cutters, Henderson persuades the Jackson brothers to cut him in as a partner. Henderson’s terms are simple: he seconds some of his men to help out with the job and takes 60 per cent of anything stolen in exchange for helping get the brothers out of the country when it is over. It’s not a great deal, especially given that we’ve already seen how Henderson deals with partners.

Using a union meeting as cover, the brothers attempt the robbery. It almost comes off until Dick Martin fresh from the beating he endured during his earlier attempt to protect the company’s money, notices something amiss. Needless to say, like most heist films it all ends very badly.

The feel of the Money Movers is straight down the line noir. The city of Sydney is anonymous as a location. The story takes place in truck lots, factory floors, container yards and neon lit streets, there’s not an opera house or expanse of blue water in sight. On the few occasions the movie takes us into larger, more brightly lit locations, the characters seem tense and uneasy.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of Money Movers is the way Beresford executes the classic noir theme of the paper-thin line between good and bad. Corruption is so pervasive, so matter a fact, it’s hardly commented on. Management complain about the girls in the counting room slipping notes into their underwear. Before he’ll lift a finger, Ross the policeman investigating the note threatening to rob the counting house casually shakes down Darcy’s human relations manager for a bribe. “Might be a bit costly”, Ross says about chasing down leads. “Not real orthodox stuff.” Even Dick Martin is tainted, framed by his former colleagues and pushed out of the police force after 24 years because he wouldn’t take bigger bribes.

The blurring of morality extends to modern business methods. Darcy’s management are more worried about the impact of the latest armoured car robbery on their insurance premiums than the safety of their employees. The CEO ponders aloud whether they should try and get some younger guards, “ex-Vietnam boys”, only to be informed they’re considered too trigger happy. Besides getting a better class of guard would break unofficial company policy only to employ applicants who fail the test: they are the only ones who won’t get bored with the job.

Flush with money made from selling drugs, liquor and sex to visiting American GIs during the Vietnam War, the seventies were a time of massive corruption across much of the eastern seaboard of Australia. The nexus between criminals, commerce, sections of the labour movement and police was tight. Illegal businesses flourished often under the direct patronage of corrupt police.

Against these forces, amateurs like Eric and Brian Jackson don’t stand a chance, no matter how quick on their feet or good with their fists they are. Beresford doesn’t waste much time explaining why these men want to rob their employer. For the older brother, an ex-racing car driver now trapped in an unhappy marriage, it’s about recapturing some sense of being on the edge. His younger brother just wants the good life. All we know about the aging union hack is an old black and white photograph of an Asian woman and his promise to come back to her.

The film combines classic elements of noir with some uniquely Australian characteristics. The class divide is starkly drawn, reinforced through out the film by images of wealth and money. The Australian economy was on the verge of recession in the late seventies, unions represented over half the working population (now it is about 20 per cent), and the view that management and workers were not on the same side wasn’t as anachronistic as it sounds now. The desire of the Jackson brothers to rip management off, to get what they have, is just a given. Even the crime boss Henderson is a victim of the economic times, masterminding armed robberies for funds to refurbish his textile factory that went belly up when government lifted import restrictions.

Given the milieu it depicts, the Money Movers has a male feel and aggression and violence are always close to the surface. The men are in charge, the women relegated to harassed secretaries, angry wives, and bits on the side. Leo Bassett, the man the Jackson brothers suspect of being behind the note, is not only an outsider, he’s branded a ‘poofter’ by Brian Jackson because it states in his personnel file that he likes music and poetry – the kiss of death in seventies Australian working class male culture.

Those who do try to do their job and refuse to compromise, like ex-cop Dick Martin, get little in return. At the film’s end, as Martin is being wheeled out of the counting house on an ambulance gurney after nearly being killed foiling the Jackson brother’s robbery, the corrupt cop Ross tells him: “Get over this and they’ll stick a medal on you and put you back on award wages”.

A little piece of metal and a minimum wage job – the best deal a hero is likely to get in Money Movers.

This piece originally appeared in Back Alley Noir’s Film Noir of the Week in June 2010.