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Escaping from a Canadian prison farm, master thief Gerard Dennis (David Brian) makes his way to Buffalo with Peggy Arthur (Perdita Chandler), who supplies him with money needed for forged papers. Dennis, Peggy and a crooked bartender in a Buffalo hotel pull a robbery in which Dennis is almost caught, but he escapes to find his accomplices have deserted him. Later, confronting them, he is badly beaten and is taken to a hospital where he meets nurse Martha Rollins (Marjorie Reynolds), who falls in love with him. They go to New Rochelle where he is wounded attempting another robbery. Martha performs the necessary surgery, believing that he will give up his life of crime. When she finds him in New York with another girl, Martha gives the police his picture and hideout location, but he escapes the police trap. He flees to Los Angeles where he meets wealthy divorcee Mrs. Arthur Vinson (Jacqueline De Wit), whose confidence he wins in order to systematically rob her society friends' jewels. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
THE GREAT JEWEL ROBBER was released by Warner Bros as the bottom half of a double feature, an added attraction to the bicentennial documentary "50 Years Before Your Eyes." I saw it with my Dad at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC and still remember it and the lasting impression it made.
The summary on this site is honest but simply inadequate to the film's merits; the intensely convincing performance by David Brian as well as the unusual inclusion of a strong point-of view. What sticks in the mind is the jewel thief's absolute and irreversible commitment to his trade and lifestyle. The film wants you to understand that he sees no alternative at all to being a jewel thief any more than a leopard sees any alternative to being a hunter. Actually, changing the leopard's ways would be easier. The film wants you to revel somewhat in each clever success, and in association and deceit of high society people; but much more than that it wants you to appreciate the pain, misery and depression involved. Another time caught, another long prison sentence, another delay in returning to crime --- his joy in life.
Seeing this at age 12, did I then follow David Brian's lead and enter a life of crime? Not at all; the film was more of a dissuader than any other crime film. I also had strong religious training, the more important of the two.
I saw a Randolph Scott movie tonight with David Brian as the bad guy and The Great Jewel Robber was quickly remembered after 57 years. I can't recommend the movie, I suppose. Dismissed by Warners in 1950 as a B movie, I have no clue how you could see this movie, never seen it rerun, not one time.
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