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Never Steal Anything Small (1959)

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Jake MacIllaney will do just about anything to win the presidential election of longshoreman union Local 26. When he encounters young upright attorney Dan Cabot and Cabot's attractive wife,... See full summary »


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Title: Never Steal Anything Small (1959)

Never Steal Anything Small (1959) on IMDb 6/10

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jake MacIllaney
Linda Cabot
Dan Cabot
Cara Williams ...
Winnipeg Simmons
Words Cannon
Lt. Tevis
Horace McMahon ...
O. K. Merritt
Virginia Vincent ...
Sleep-Out Charlie Barnes
Herbie Faye ...
Billy M. Greene ...
Ed Barton
Barry Russo ...
Ward (as John Duke)
Jack Orrison ...


Jake MacIllaney will do just about anything to win the presidential election of longshoreman union Local 26. When he encounters young upright attorney Dan Cabot and Cabot's attractive wife, Linda, MacIllaney breaks up their marriage, pursues Linda, and pins a grand larceny rap on Dan. And all set to music! Written by Ray Hamel <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

union | gangster | based on play







Release Date:

24 July 1959 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Never Steal Anything Small  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


On a trip to Hawaii, James Cagney meet Roger Smith stationed there in the Naval Reserve, impressed with his clean-cut good looks and appeal, he encouraged Smith to pursue an acting career. Following the advice and after success in several films, Smith reconnected with Cagney who hired him to play his son, "Lon Jr." in Man of a Thousand Faces (1957). Cagney later cast him as his co-star in the musical comedy-drama Never Steal Anything Small (1959). See more »


Helping Our Friends
Music by Allie Wrubel
Lyrics by Maxwell Anderson
See more »

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User Reviews

A curiosity, a collector's item, and a seldom screened rarity.
3 May 2005 | by (London, United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

'Never Steal Anything Small' is a curiosity, a collector's item, and a seldom screened rarity.

Based on Maxwell Anderson's rejected play 'The Devil's Hornpipe', with new songs by Allie Wrubel, 'Never Steal Anything Small' tells of Jake MacIllaney, an irrepressible rogue who climbs to the top in the Trade Union racket. No trick is too dirty, no strategy too low for this scoundrel, and it fortunate for the movie that he is played by James Cagney whose effervescent screen presence makes the character bearable. It is also fortunate that the married woman for whom Jake develops an uncontrollable yen is played by Shirley Jones. 'Oklahoma!' may have been her break-through movie, but this is her break-out movie. For the first time Shirley was allowed to play a full-grown woman on screen, and she presents a new Shirley Jones, full-bodied and sexy, strong-willed and argumentative. Those who were startled by Shirley's performance in 'Elmer Gantry' cannot have seen 'Never Steal Anything Small'.

The movie is a puzzle. Allie Wrubel wrote several other songs which were not used, and Hermes Pan is the choreographer. Yet there is almost no dancing in the film and hardly any songs. This raises the question of whether Universal-International lost their nerve, and tried to make it a non-musical. Certainly Universal is not a studio associated with musicals, least of all in Cinemascope.

The film provides a chance to see Robert Wilke and Royal Dano, two regulars in Universal westerns, in a modern setting, plus another view of Cara Williams, Cyd Charisse's unsuccessful rival in 'Meet Me In Las Vegas'.

'Never Steal Anything Small' is such an uneven movie, and the leading character so unprincipled, that many people will dislike the film. However those with a cynical sense of humour or an appetite for Shirley Jones will find much to enjoy.

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