April 22, 1999

Contact: Carmen Ramos Chandler ,
(818) 677-2130

Rare Film Screening Offers Chance to Talk with
Writer Abraham Polonsky, Director Robert Wise

(NORTHRIDGE, Calif.) - Blacklisted writer Abraham Polonsky and critically acclaimed director Robert Wise will be on hand May 3 as Cal State Northridge presents a special screening of their film, "Odds Against Tomorrow," starring Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Shelley Winters and Gloria Grahame.

The free screening will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center of the University Student Union on the east side of the campus at 18111 Nordhoff St., Northridge.

Following the screening, Polonsky and Wise will talk about the film and sign copies of the newly published screenplay book Odds Against Tomorrow: The Critical Edition, which is part of the university's "Film as Literature Series."

"This is a rare opportunity to see and hear in person two legendary figures from the world of cinema," said Judith Marlane, chair of CSUN's Radio-Television-Film Department. "Abraham Polonsky's work is legendary and deserves our attention because it speaks to generations today as well as it did when he first made it."

"Odds Against Tomorrow" is considered one of the last great films noir of the black and white era. Ryan portrays a racially prejudiced ex-con who joins with Ed Begley and a reluctant Harry Belafonte in a plan to rob a small-town bank. Tensions between Ryan's and Belafonte's characters culminate in a disastrous failure, an elaborate shoot-out with police and a cataclysmic explosion of oil storage tanks.

The 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 contained in the finished film.)

The critical analysis, written by CSUN professor John Schultheiss, draws extensively on interviews with Wise, Belafonte and Polonsky. Discussed in depth are the significance of a black protagonist within the film noir genre; the film's status within African American-related cinema; and the adaptation from William McGivern's novel.

Odds Against Tomorrow: The Critical Edition is the third book published by The Center for Telecommunication Studies, a university press sponsored by the Radio-TV-Film Department at California State University, Northridge. Through its "Film as Literature Series," CSUN has joined the efforts of the Hollywood community to preserve classic motion pictures and make them more accessible to universities and film scholars.

Besides "Odds Against Tomorrow," the Center has reconstructed the screenplays to "Force of Evil" and ten episodes from the CBS television series "You Are There." In the preparatory stages are "Body and Soul," "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here," and "Guilty By Suspicion." These scripts are of particular interest to the film community because they were all written by Polonsky, who was blacklisted in Hollywood in the 1950s for refusing to testify before the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities (HUAC). During that time, writers had to submit their work through front men, people who would claim credit in order for the writer to be paid.

The "You Are There" volume published by the Center is the only book to authenticate the screen credits of the real writers of the series. CBS to this date still officially lists the "fronts" as the actual writers they employed. Odds Against Tomorrow: The Critical Edition documents Polonsky's valid screen credit for the film, removing the name of his front, John O. Killens.

For more information, call (818) 677-3192.

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Carmen Ramos Chandler, Director of News and Information