61 user 34 critic

The Big Steal (1949)

Approved | | Crime, Film-Noir, Romance | 29 June 1949 (USA)
An army lieutenant accused of robbery pursues the real thief on a frantic chase through Mexico aided by the thief's fiancee.


Don Siegel


Daniel Mainwaring (screenplay) (as Geoffrey Homes), Gerald Drayson Adams (screenplay) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
Robert Mitchum ... Lt. Duke Halliday
Jane Greer ... Joan Graham
William Bendix ... Capt. Vincent Blake
Patric Knowles ... Jim Fiske
Ramon Novarro ... Inspector General Ortega
Don Alvarado ... Lt. Ruiz
John Qualen ... Julius Seton
Pascual García Peña Pascual García Peña ... Manuel (as Pascual Garcia Pena)


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 <timbo@netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It's a tough, terrific adventure in grand larceny! But, there's more than money on his mind...when he mixes with this gal with the million dollar figure! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Originally, Lizabeth Scott had agreed to play the female lead. However, she bowed out after Mitchum was convicted for smoking marijuana, afraid it would hurt her career. See more »


During a car chase, Mitchum/Greer's car clearly run over a chicken, leaving it fluttering in the road. When Bendix's car passes the spot, the chicken is gone. See more »


Lt. Duke Halliday: [to Joan] 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?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also shown in a computer-colorized version. See more »

User Reviews

A charming little adventure film--sort of like a Mexican film noir comedy!
31 October 2009 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

Wow--talk about a strange but likable combination. This film is sort of like a mixture of film noir, and adventure film, a comedy and it's all set in Mexico. While this unusual melange might seem to make no sense, it actually works very well and it supremely watchable. Much of the reason for this was the excellent script that provided enough twists to keep a simple idea humming and another were the likable leads, Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer.

The film begins with Robert Mitchum being confronted by William Bendix on a cruise ship. Bendix has a gun on Mitchum and you aren't sure what the context is for this. Who is the good guy and who is the bad and what has happened up until this time? Instead of making this clear, the film deliberately keeps this all rather vague--a very good choice in hindsight. Since Mitchum is the studly male lead, you aren't particularly surprised when he manages to overpower Bendix and escape.

Once Mitchum escapes, he goes looking for a man (Patric Knowles) and apparently Jane Greer is also looking for the same con man. However, again and again, Knowles slips through their hands and the film consists of a road trip across Mexico to get their hands on Knowles. He evidently stole something--but what? And what about Bendix? Tune in and find out for yourself.

As I mentioned above, the story works well due to the writing and acting. Greer and Mitchum are a good pair and their dialog is actually quite snappy and funny. I also appreciated how the Mexicans were portrayed--they were normal folks--something unusual for 1940s Hollywood.

Overall, an exciting and fun film from start to finish and a next followup from their last film together, OUT OF THE PAST. However, according to the accompanying featurette (a DVD extra), Greer was not the first choice but Lizbeth Scott refused to star in the film with Mitchum following his arrest for marijuana possession.

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English | Spanish

Release Date:

29 June 1949 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Big Steal See more »


Box Office


$780,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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