VIOLENT SATURDAY. 20th Century Fox, 1955. Victor Mature, Richard Egan, Stephen McNally, Virginia Leith, Tommy Noonan, Lee Marvin, Margaret Hayes, J. Carrol Naish, Sylvia Sidney, Ernest Borgnine. Based on the novel by William L. Heath. Director: Richard Fleischer.

   It took me a long time to catch up with Violent Saturday, which I saw on local TV in the 60s, pretty badly cut up. At the time I thought it a compact little gem of a film, but seeing it again recently at last, I find it’s the kind of film that needs to be badly cut up.

   There’s a fine little Heist Movie at the heart of it, and when three exemplary Heavies like Stephen McNally, J. Carroll Naish and Lee Marvin finally square off against Victor Mature, the film snaps, crackles and pops with excitement. Unfortunately, it takes about eighty minutes of Nothing Very Much to get around to it.

   I recommend the book, by the way, a nifty little novel by W. L. Heath (Harper, 1955; reprinted by Black Lizard, 1985) that brings life to small-town characters reduced to Soap Opera status in the film.