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Hardly his most memorable film, "I Stole a Million" covers familiar territory for George Raft. A very good beginning sinks into a poorly constructed storyline, unfortunately, and the greatest actor in the world could not have pulled out of that.
Plot: The system, the fates and bad dudes conspire to stick taxi-driver Joe on the wrong side of the law. After meeting Laura, he tries to turn his life around, and for a while he succeeds - marriage, business, a kid on the way. But his past catches up with him, and he slides into deeper criminal action than he ever dreamed before. The title actually refers to a very brief, rapid section of the film.
The well-paced early part of the movie, with great car action, slimy businessmen, escaping the cops, and hopping a freight, holds real promise. But everything seems to come to a screeching halt when Joe meets Laura (Claire Trevor). It's hardly Trevor's fault; it's the sudden flowery music and saccharine mood. What made the film interesting at that point fades away though there are still a few good bits and another swell car chase. There is a nicely lit sequence of dancing in a diner (including an Elmer Fudd of a proprietor). And late we learn Joe was the abused son of an alcoholic - which provides only a nice bit of dialog, for the script does not allow it the interest it deserves.
Not helping is the odd fact that Raft and Trevor have all the friendly chemistry of a brother and sister. Again, it's not something that can be blamed on anyone. It does make one appreciate the instant chemistry Raft had with such wildly different actresses as Sylvia Sidney and Ann Sheridan.
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