Five Minutes to Live (1961)

Who would have thought that Johnny Cash ever acted in a movie, that he played a psychotic criminal, and that he was actually good? Cash, who was a rising star in the popular music scene at the time, appears in this low budget crime pic as Johnny Cabot, a ruthless, guitar-strumming thief who calmly shoots his girlfriend in the opening scene because she may have been fooling around with someone else, and goes back to strumming his chords. Cabot then teams up with Fred Dorella (played by Vic Tayback, from TV’s “Alice”), who hatches a plan to rob a bank by having Cabot hold the wife of a bank executive hostage while her husband is at work, and her son (Ron Howard in one of his first performances) is at school. Cabot arrives at the house toting a guitar, claiming to be a door-to-door salesman, then forces himself in. It turns out that behind the facade of the ideal suburban couple, the husband has a mistress and doesn’t care much about saving his wife. Other complications set in while Cabot terrorizes the wife, played by Cay Forrester, who also wrote the script. Cash is genuinely frightening in his performance, which recalls Robert Mitchum in Cape Fear, but clunky dialogue, poor direction, and an apparently minuscule budget unfortunately keep this from being a good film.

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