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As a team, Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer are pretty well-known, at
least to classic film fans, for their pairing in "Out Of The Past," but
I thought they were a lot more fun to watch in this particular film
This movie, still not available on tape or disc for some reason, is almost one long chase scene, with people in three vehicles all on the move....with a neat twist at the end.
There is the typical 1940s budding romance in which the two parties do nothing with insult each other until the end. Sometimes that gets really old but in here it isn't, maybe because Greer has so many good lines.
It's also fun to see the old cars racing around hairpin curves, although the special effects are really dated. The fight scenes didn't look too realistic, either. Hey, I didn't say it was technically a great movie.....just a fun one to watch. Equally entertaining were two of the other people in on the chases: William Bendix and Patric Knowles.
Jane and Duke meet in Vera Cruz, where they have both come to find Jim
Friske Jane because she is missing $2000, Duke because Friske has
stolen hundreds of thousands that Duke has been accused of stealing.
Duke himself is being pursued by Captain Blake to get the money back
and bring him to justice. Duke gives Blake the slip but Friske gets
away from all of them; believing Jane to know more than she is letting
on Duke limpets to her to get to Friske, only for both of them to get
pulled in front of the local Inspector General Ortega. All these
players dance around one another as each tries to get what they want
while also protecting themselves from the others.
Opening with a couple of sudden slaps and punches I assumed this was going to be a very rough pot-boiler but in fact it turned out to be not only tough but also pretty amusing and slick. The basic plot is a bit contrived and requires all the characters to be able to move around one another without getting an easy solution. This does produce some amusing interactions as the story stays quite tight on the way to a nicely twisty conclusion. It isn't dark enough or strong enough to be classed as a serious crime thriller or noir (which it absurdly is listed as by this site) but it is certainly entertaining and tough enough to be worth checking out.
The cast really help and seem to "get" the tone of the material. Mitchum is tough but has a good humour about him that sets up the rest of the film; he has judged it well and his easy charm gives him chemistry with Greer. She is also good light and sassy without straying too much outside of the role of needy female. Bendix is tough and flustered in a good way while Knowles makes for quite a nice relaxed thief that sits well with the playing that the script requires him and the other characters to do. Novarro is a fun addition and he works well as the observer in the background.
Overall this is not a tough gritty noir that it may appear to be from the period and those involved but it is still a fun crime drama. It is occasionally quite rough while also having a slight caper feel to it but the overall impact is one of quite a slick and enjoyable film that makes up for in fun what it loses in grit.
'The Big Steal' sees Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer team up again after their earlier Noir classic 'Out Of The Past', which is still one of the greatest Film Noirs ever made. 'The Big Steal' isn't as good, that's a fact, but it's a very different kind of movie, and comparing the two is a bit unfair. It's much lighter in tone and approach. Still Mitchum and Greer make a great team and it's a pity they didn't work together more. Director Don Siegel went on to make 'Invasion Of The Body Snatchers', 'The Killers' and 'Dirty Harry', all great favourites of mine, but 'The Big Steal' is just as good and is not to be overlooked. It's a great piece of entertainment and also features a very good performance by William Bendix, who I also really enjoyed in Hitchcock's underrated 'Lifeboat'. Forget about 'Out Of The Past' and just enjoy 'The Big Steal' for what it is, a thriller that is a great fun film.
What a great film this is! Lighthearted and serious, romantic and thrilling, tense and humorous all at once. It's simply a joy to watch from the very first frame right to the end. There's never a dull moment, the performances are first-rate, and while, on the surface, it's one of those typical middle-of-the-road 40's quasi-noir films, it manages to transcend all that and become something truly special. It certainly doesn't have the greatness of something like The Big Sleep or The Maltese Falcon, and yet it's just as enjoyable, and in some ways, even more enjoyable than either of those. If movies are an escape, there is no world I would rather escape to than the one created by this film.
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
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.
Wonderful repartee between Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in this chase caper. Absolutely delightful. Jane Greer and Mitchum at at their height of attractiveness, and work so well together. Lots of rapid fire dialogue, quips and double entendres in the script.
This above average crime drama holds one's interest due to good writing, excellent cinematography, and Robert Mitchum. The film must have been subsidized by the Mexican Tourist Bureau, so fetching are the scenes of the Mexican countryside. Ramon Novarro is excellent as the craftily sly police chief, and Willima Bendix puts in a good turn. Worth watching.
Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer co-star in this film about a wrongfully accused man being chased by the bad guy, while chasing the other bad guy. Mitchum and Greer are both charming and warm, Mitchum with his cool demeanor and lazy eyes, Greer with her charismatic presence and radiant smile. William Bendix offers a terrific performance as the bad guy chasing down Mitchum. Fast, fun and not to be missed.
Despite this being a film noir piece, it's a very sunny movie in appearance, regardless of how unlikely that may sound. Multiple chases, great interplay between Mitchum & Greer, and fast-paced direction by Siegel make this a fun little film that can be enjoyed more than once.
Halliday and Chiquita meet while both chasing Fiske. She's after him for breaking their engagement and taking $2000 and he's after him for an army payroll robbery that his superior officer has blamed on him. The superior officer is chasing Halliday and the Inspector General becomes involved. A great chase with a climatic finish. Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer are brilliant and you can see the sparks fly.
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