Noir City Hollywood, the Home Game: ARMORED CAR ROBBERY and ASSAULT ON THE PAY TRAIN

I’ve always said that Film Noir isn’t about the crime, it’s about the ways in which the people involved come apart. This double bill features a pair of heist flicks that perfectly illustrate that concept.

First up, ARMORED CAR ROBBERY.

A heist gone wrong leaves a cop dead, sending his partner on a quest for vengeance.

I’ve already written this one up (scroll down!) It’s superb, and you should watch it.

Next up is a new-to-me flick from Brazil, ASSAULT ON THE PAY TRAIN. (AKA Assalto ao Trem Pagador.)

A gang of hard men from the slums of Rio de Janeiro succeed in robbing a train, but struggle, slip up and tear each other apart in the aftermath.

First off, this is a Manly Man Movie, For MEN. And Man Enjoyers. This movie was so manly it made BRUTE FORCE look like THE WOMEN. It was so manly, that I had to shave my chest after viewing. If there were a game in which non-manly people had to drink every time a character said something about “real men” they would all be dead.

Second of all, it deals explicitly with class and race. A white character goes off on a brutal, racist tirade about why he can spend all the money he wants after the heist and not seem suspicious, unlike his Black partners, who he calls “monkeys.”

He gets what’s coming to him, but if that kind of thing makes you uncomfortable you might want to skip this one.

Eliezer Gomes, who plays our Robin Hood-esque gangster hero Tião, is commanding and unforgettable in this, his breakout role. His intimidating physical presence and brooding, violent masculinity reminded me of Lawrence Tierney. A what-you-see-is-what-you-get kind of non-actor.

Tião takes care of his two families (!) and all his friends. Provides water to his neighbors in the favela. Pays for medical care and funerals. I will admit the idea of a guy who openly cheats on his wife and has another child with a different woman being an admirable “real man” was a bit odd to me. It was even weirder that he would bother with number two when number one is the stunning Luiza Maranhão!

There’s even a scene where she starts to go down on him and then the camera zooms in on his hand clutching a fistful of stolen cash!

The blue-eyed racist Grilo gets plenty of onscreen action too. He hooks up with a hot blonde from the ritzy side of town who uses him for money and kicks until she gets sick of his low class ass and drops a dime on him.

Oh and if you couldn’t tell from that lobby card, there’s lots of sexy bare foot action!

This is a raw, powerful and shockingly violent flick that highlights social injustice and the gritty, gray areas between what is legal and what is just. It doesn’t look away from the soul-crushing ugliness of poverty. Maybe it runs a bit long and gets a little too into the whole “real man” thing at times, but I still enjoyed the hell out of it. Check it out if you can.

Tomorrow it’s a Prison Noir double bill featuring the aforementioned BRUTE FORCE and HARDLY A CRIMINAL.

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