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Violent Saturday is a 1955 American film noir crime film directed by Richard Fleischer and starring Victor Mature, Richard Egan and Stephen McNally. The film, set in a mining town, depicts the planning of a bank robbery as the nexus in the personal lives of several townspeople.

Violent Saturday
Violent Saturday poster.jpg
Theatrical lobby card
Directed byRichard Fleischer
Produced byBuddy Adler
Written bySydney Boehm
William L. Heath (novel)
StarringVictor Mature
Richard Egan
Stephen McNally
Music byHugo Friedhofer
CinematographyCharles G. Clarke
Edited byLouis R. Loeffler
20th Century Fox
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • April 1955 (1955-04)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.25 million (US rental)[2][3]

Prominent actors Sylvia Sidney and Ernest Borgnine are in supporting roles. Violent Saturday was filmed in color, on location in Bisbee, Arizona.


Harper (Stephen McNally) is a bank robber posing as a traveling salesman. He arrives in town, soon to be joined by sadistic benzedrine addict Dill (Lee Marvin) and bookish Chapman (J. Carrol Naish).

Boyd Fairchild (Richard Egan) is manager of the local copper mine, troubled by his philandering wife (Margaret Hayes). He considers an affair with nurse Linda Sherman (Virginia Leith), though he truly loves his wife. His associate, Shelley Martin (Victor Mature), has a happy home life, but is embarrassed that his son believes he is a coward because he did not serve in World War II.

Subplots involves a peeping-tom bank manager, Harry Reeves (Tommy Noonan), and a larcenous librarian, Elsie Braden (Sylvia Sidney). As the bank robbers carry out their plot, the separate character threads are drawn together. Violence erupts during the robbery. Fairchild's wife is slain and bank manager Reeves is wounded. Martin is held hostage on a farm with an Amish family. With the help of the father (Ernest Borgnine), he defeats the crooks in a savage gunfight. In the aftermath, Martin becomes a hero to his son, and Linda comforts Fairchild as he grieves for his wife.



The film was based on a novel by William Heath. In August 1954 Darryl F. Zanuck recommended 20th Century Fox buy the screen rights prior to publication.[4] They paid a reported $30,000.[5]

Victor Mature had been feuding with 20th Century Fox but agreed to play the lead.[6]

Filming started 6 December 1954.[7]

Critical receptionEdit

The New York Times did not approve of the violence of the film. Critic Bosley Crowther called the film an "unedifying spectacle," while praising the performance of Lee Marvin as a hood "so icily evil he is funny." Borgnine's performance was panned by Crowther as "a joke."

More recent reviewers have been favorable. In a 2008 article, the Village Voice called the film "the reigning king of Southwestern noir." The New York Press said "Violent Saturday seems rooted in tradition, but as an exciting pulp story with a profound center, it manages to break all the rules." George Robinson in Cine-Journal wrote, "With the possible exception of The Narrow Margin, this is Richard Fleischer’s best film. . . . Great, nasty fun." Michael Sragow of The New Yorker said, "Packed with twists and surprises. Marvin proves most unsettling as a hard guy who’s always snorting from an inhaler (it’s psychosomatic: he once had a wife with a perpetual cold). Mature, with his stricken manliness, reminds you of why James Agee thought he would be perfect as Diomed in Troilus and Cressida."

Similarities between Violent Saturday and Peter Weir's movie Witness (1985) have been observed.[by whom?][citation needed]

Richard Fleischer later wrote in his memoirs that "besides being the first CinemaScope picture ever made for under $1 million, it was a damn good movie. Darryl Zanuck, the studio's big boss, was very taken with it, and we - [producer] Buddy [Adler] and I - became sort of heroes. The direct result of this minor triumph was that I was given a five year directing contract and Buddy became Darryl's most favoured producer."[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Solomon,p249
  2. ^ Solomon, p226
  3. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956
  4. ^ 'Violent Saturday,' New Novel, Purchased; David Brian 'Timberjack' Star Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 18 Aug 1954: B7.
  6. ^ Vic Mature Woos Lili St. Cyr The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959) [Washington, D.C] 24 Nov 1954: 22.
  7. ^ SPIEGEL ACQUIRES BOOK FILM RIGHTS: Producer Hopes to Get John Ford to Direct 'The Bridge Over the River Kwai' By THOMAS M. PRYOR Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 20 Nov 1954: 10
  8. ^ Fleischer, Richard (1993). Just Tell Me When to Cry. Carrol and Graf. pp. 15–16.
  • Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1.

External linksEdit