The Man in Black’s acting debut came when he portrayed the deranged, practically foaming at the mouth cop killer “Johnny Cabot” in the 1961 film noir, Five Minutes to Live. Johnny, along with his partner (Vic Tayback, “Mel” from the 70s sitcom Alice ) plot a unique bank robbery. Johnny knocks on the door of a housewife (Cay Forester, who wrote the script) offering to give her guitar lessons and then takes her hostage. Her husband, (Donald Woods) a bank manager, is told that she will be murdered unless Tayback’s character walks out of the bank with $70,000.
Their plans go awry when the banker calmly informs him that they’d be doing him a big favor by killing his wife so he can run off to Las Vegas with his mistress! Then their son (a young Ron Howard) comes home from school, throwing another wrench into the works.
The weirdest part of the film is the way they shoehorned in a Johnny Cash performance (albeit a twisted one) when “Johnny Cabot” decides to sing a murder ballad to his terrified hostage about her own impending doom. You can skip directly to 36:40 to watch Cash-as-psychopath terrorize her with his guitar, performing “Five Minutes to Live.”
He’s not exactly “Frank Booth” from Blue Velvet, but he’s still pretty fucking creepy.
Five Minutes to Live was re-titled Door-to-Door Maniac for a 1966 re-release. Country great Merle Travis makes a cameo appearance.
Via Open Culture