The big national crime syndicate has moved into town, partnering up with local crime boss Nick Scanlon. There are only two problems: First, Nick is the violent type, preferring to do things... See full summary »
Nick Cochran, an American in exile in Macao, has a chance to restore his name by helping capture an international crime lord. Undercover, can he mislead the bad guys and still woo the handsome singer/petty crook, Julie Benson?
Josef von Sternberg,
Jane and Duke (alias Capt. Blake) accidently meet in Vera Cruz while chasing flim-flam man Fiske. Soon the local Inspector General (El Gato) is involved. Fiske races across Mexico, pursued by Jane and Duke, trailed by the real Capt. Blake. The crafty Inspector General is waiting for them in Tihuacan but they all give him the slip, just in time for the climactic finale. Very tight script and pacing. Written by
Jane Greer got the female lead because studio head Howard Hughes didn't want to risk using Jane Russell, RKO's biggest female star, in case the public would turn against Robert Mitchum because of his jail sentence for smoking marijuana .Greer and Hughes previously had a relationship, which she broke off to get married. Out of spite, Hughes stopped giving her roles, but decided that in this case she was perfect for this seemingly thankless role. See more »
When Duke Halliday falls off the side of Jim Fiske's car, he lands on his left arm and is seen rubbing it. In the next scene, while speaking to Inspector General Ortega, Halliday is rubbing his right arm. See more »
Lt. Duke Halliday:
I'm the kind of guy who doesn't like to turn around, Chiquita. Besides, that there's a guy behind me with a gun. Remember?
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There's really not much to this film, basically just a car chase and a double cross concerning money. But Don Siegel delivers the action with humor and élan. Jane Greer was not the first choice to play Robert Mitchum's buddy. Several others were not permitted by their studios to work with Mitchum because of his recent pot bust. "The Big Steal" would have died on the vine had Greer not gladly stepped in. The spark between the two is essential and what repartee. The clever dialog causes the film to glide along like a soft summer breeze south of the border.
Mitchum and Greer get the needed support from the rest of the cast. William Bendix was a versatile and talented actor. He could play comedy as well as the best comedians of the day. In "Who Done It?" Bendix out clowned Lou Costello--no easy task. He was so funny that Lou refused to work with him again because he was stealing the show. He could also play the dumb but tough thug as he did so well in "Dark Corner." He could play straight drama as in "Lifeboat," "The Hairy Ape," and "The Time of Your Life." He could play a psycho as in "The Blue Dahlia" as well as Tony Perkins. Why, he even played Babe Ruth and made people believe it. He made "The Life of Riley" come to life on early TV. He plays Capt. Vincent Blake in "The Big Steal," who is chasing Duke Halliday (Mitchum) who is chasing Jim Fiske (Patric Knowles) who is trying to keep a rendezvous with Hulius Seton (John Qualen), the fence for the stolen money. One of the funniest scenes in the movie involve William Bendix and a mob (not a herd) of sheep. Watch for it. Silent movie star Ramon Novarro plays Col. Ortega, who is content to sit back and let the bad guys eliminate each other. He is also trying to learn English from Lt. Ruiz but has a few problems with American slang. Also look for Mitchum's wife, Dorothy, as one of the tourists.
It's easy to see shades of Dirty Harry in the action sequences, a sign of good things to come. Because of Don Siegel's direction and a well-written script, "The Big Steal" will steal you away.
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