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The Big Caper (1957) More at IMDbPro »

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The Big Caper -- A "confidence couple" pose as husband and wife while attempting a bank heist.


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Martin Berkeley (screenplay)
Lionel White (novel)
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Release Date:
31 March 1959 (Sweden) See more »
The BIG Money...The BIG Blonde...She just liked people...Men-People! See more »
A con man in debt and down on his luck comes up with what he thinks is the perfect caper--robbing a... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Corey Allen obituary
 (From The Guardian - Film News. 5 July 2010, 10:57 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Economical, pacy minor 50s crime movie. See more (9 total) »


  (in credits order)

Rory Calhoun ... Frank Harper
Mary Costa ... Kay

James Gregory ... Flood
Robert H. Harris ... Zimmer (as Robert Harris)
Roxanne Arlen ... Doll

Corey Allen ... Roy

Paul Picerni ... Harry
Patrick McVey ... Sam Loxley
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Florenz Ames ... Paulmeyer (uncredited)
Louise Arthur ... Alice Loxley (uncredited)
Roscoe Ates ... Falkenburg (uncredited)
Valentin de Vargas ... Gas Station Attendant (uncredited)
Melody Gale ... Bitsy (uncredited)
Terry Kelman ... Bennie Laxley (uncredited)
James Nolan ... Police Sgt. Waldo Harrington (uncredited)
Voltaire Perkins ... Flood's Attorney (uncredited)
Jack Shea ... Joe Stancil (uncredited)

Ray Teal ... Real Estate Broker (uncredited)
Rusty Wescoatt ... Plainclothesman Outside Bank (uncredited)

Directed by
Robert Stevens 
Writing credits
Martin Berkeley (screenplay)

Lionel White (novel)

Produced by
Howard Pine .... producer (as Howard B. Pine)
William C. Thomas .... producer
Original Music by
Albert Glasser 
Cinematography by
Lionel Lindon 
Film Editing by
George A. Gittens  (as George Gittens)
Art Direction by
Frank Paul Sylos  (as Frank Sylos)
Set Decoration by
Alfred Kegerris 
Costume Design by
Jerry Bos 
Fay Moore 
Alvina Tomin 
Makeup Department
Norman Pringle .... makeup artist
Myrl Stoltz .... hair stylist
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Frank Fox .... assistant director
Sound Department
Roger Heman Sr. .... sound recordist (as Roger Heman)
Fred Lau .... sound recordist
Camera and Electrical Department
Jack Koffman .... still photographer (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
84 min
Sound Mix:


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11 out of 11 people found the following review useful.
Economical, pacy minor 50s crime movie., 22 April 2002
Author: noir guy from London, England

Adapted, like Stanley Kubrick's more celebrated 1956 crime movie THE KILLING, from a novel by underrated thriller writer Lionel White, THE BIG CAPER is an economical, pacy minor 50s crime movie which, unfortunately, somewhat loses its grip and falls away on the home strait to deliver less than it initially promises. Trapped in an ever-increasing spiral of gambling losses, Frank (Rory Calhoun, taking a welcome break from the saddle) sells his now semi-respectable gangster boss Flood (James Gregory) the idea of bankrolling a 'big caper'. The sleepy Californian coastal town of San Felipe is home to a bank which holds the substantial payroll for a nearby army base, and appears just ripe for the pickings for a team of professional hoods. Flood stakes the plan, and, after buying up the local gas station (an ideal stakeout locale for the bank located across the street), Frank sets up home with Flood's moll Kay (Mary Costa), aiming to win the trust of the local populace based on a seemingly legitimate veneer of domestic normality. Biding their time, Frank and Kay ingratiate themselves with the local 'square' population as they await the arrival of Flood's specialist team. But when this outfit includes an alcoholic pyromaniac, an inveterate womaniser, a psychotically loyal bodyguard and a kingpin who is beginning, rightfully, to suspect that his girl wants out from her previous lifestyle, the seemingly perfect caper begins to look fatally flawed. Swift and punchy, and betraying the best of its paperback origins in swift, sharp characterisation and abrupt narrative gear changes, this benefits from a nicely embittered change-of-pace lead performance from Calhoun (who, in forsaking his cowboy boots and spurs here, suggests he would have made an effectively downbeat noir actor) and a surprising sense of well-oiled coiled-spring menace from the underrated Gregory. Although a tad schematic in its paralleling of the Eisenhower-era nuclear family with Flood's dysfunctional criminal one, and running out of steam on the way to a regrettably contrived ending which involves a Damascene conversion which doesn't quite convince (a more cynical remake would probably put that right, though), this is a diverting slice of 50s criminality which seems, like much of the quirky crime roster from this period, to have slipped off the generic radar in recent years. Worth a look, even if it can't hold a candle to Kubrick's more celebrated Lionel White adaptation from the same period.

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