The Rat Race

Director: Robert Mulligan
Year Released: 1960
Rating: 3.0

A sax player (Tony Curtis) takes the bus from Milwaukee to NYC to find success as a serious jazz musician, but only encounters over-priced rooms, swindlers and thieves, so he pals up with a Manhattan-weary dancer (Debbie Reynolds) to split a room ... but as it turns out, she's in serious debt with a local dance hall operator/revolting pimp (Don Rickles). Even the upbeat score, playful banter from Jack Oakie and Kay Medford and colorful palate can't mask the inherent ugliness in Garson Kanin's play in which almost everyone in the City is a con-artist/grifter and where pretty girls are forced to turn to prostitution or risk getting slashed (Rickles is very much over-the-top). Curtis' character's Midwestern values are seen as a bright spot on an Island of Corruption, and his chemistry with Reynolds' jaded artist is the movie's saving grace: cramped in their tiny apartment, they can only find hope in each other.