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"My plan hinges on the interesting fact that if you take a train from Los Angeles to New York, there's a four-hour stop-over in Chicago."
"What's so interesting about Chicago?"
"Any town where you steal a million dollars is interesting."
Three down-on-their-luck beatniks -- John Mapes, an aspiring actor; Ray Miller, a failed writer; and "poor little rich boy" George Leland, the neglected son of a famous movie star -- are hired by an amoral coffee house proprietor to help pull off an armored car robbery during a rail trip. The heist goes off swimmingly; but afterward, on the train to New York, the conspirators begin dying, one by one.
This film contains examples of:
- Always Murder: Leland's death.
"Father" Tucker: What makes you think it was suicide?
Conductor: What else would it be?
"Father" Tucker: Murder?
Conductor: What makes you say that?
"Father" Tucker: This [suicide] note is type-written.
"Father" Tucker: Where's the typewriter?
- The above exchange is part of a Xanatos Gambit on Tucker's part; it's fine and good if Leland's staged "suicide" is taken as such, but he's set the evidence up to point to the other henchmen, thus making it easier to get them out of his way.
- Armed Blag: The plan -- steal the money, bury the evidence, and get out of town on the train before anyone knows what happened.
- Bittersweet Ending: Tucker is defeated and John is cleared of murder. He still has to answer for his part in the armored car heist. And how is Jeanie supposed to get home? She spent that dollar an hour ago.
- Clear My Name
- Dare to Be Badass: Part of Tucker's sales pitch, including a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. ("You're not Beat, you're merely beaten; you're not detached, you're unemployed!")
- The Dragon, The Watson: Sidney
- Dumb Blonde: The waitress, Karen.
- Gossipy Hens
- Grande Dame: Inverted with the rich, snobby woman who desperately wants to be Beat.
- The Heist / The Caper
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Don Sullivan (George Leland) was the lead actor in The Giant Gila Monster.
- And Edward "The Chief" Platt as Tucker.
- And Gene "Not Merritt Stone" Roth, of course.
- I Thought That Was: While not as bad as The Beatniks, the protagonists are more accurately described as "beat" than "rebellious".
- Missing Mom: Rita Leland provides her son George with all the Freudian Excuse he could possibly ask for.
- She does finally decide to (very publically) reconcile with George at the end... while not noticing his corpse being wheeled past her mid-speech.
- The Mountains of Illinois
- Murder Is the Best Solution. "One less share to dispense, and now... there'll be still another share less."
- Paper-Thin Disguise: A clean shave and a priest's collar.
- The episode guide notes that the first time the MST crew watched the film, it took them all quite a while to realize it was supposed to be a disguise.
- Porky Pig Pronunciation: "Did I see you adulterat... adultering... oh, spiking that Coke?"
- Actually botched; if you listen closely you can hear the actress pronounce "adulterating" correctly both times.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Tucker. When confiding with his main man Sidney, nearly degenerates into an Expospeak Gag.
- Shallow Love Interest: John's wife Jeanie. No, not that Jeannie.
- Smart People Play Chess: Tucker at the start of the movie. According to him he rarely loses, but only because he makes sure to play against bad chess players.
- Stop or I Will Shoot: The cops have no qualms about shooting a fleeing man in the back. To be fair, they think he's a murderer.
- Tap on the Head: A particularly Egregious example.
- Trick Dialogue: We are introduced to the lead character, John, who is in the midst of a melodramatic argument with an off-camera woman. The woman turns out to be an actress' voice-over on a "learn how to act" record collection.
- The Windy City: Chicago, where the robbery takes place during the train layover.