The Split (1968)
A trendsetting and urban jazzy score by Quincy Jones along with stylish off-hand direction by Gordon Flemyng makes The Split an attractive and engaging film, cocksure about its own seductive qualities. The film holds up well after all these years for the said reasons, but also because it pushes and plays with genre conventions, beginning with a series of seemingly incohesive high-action chase sequences, developing into a clever, low-key heist film, before ultimately becoming a hard-hitting urban western, complete with showdown and an indulgent portrayal of violence, which arguably was quite controversial at the time of release. As such, the film belongs to a vein started by Arthur Penn and Warren Beatty with Bonnie and Clyde the year before, in which violence was given a far more stark and pessimistic treatment than before. The plot presented in The Split isn't necessarily brilliant, but the ambition with which it is treated gives the film relevance and freshness. The performances are notable for the division between the classic, unprobing workmanship of Borgnine, Klugman, Harris and Oates, and the modern, more introspective work by Brown, Hackman and Sutherland. All in all, it's a fine and attractive cast in a film which deserves to be remembered.