25 user 9 critic

Once a Thief (1965)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Thriller | 8 September 1965 (USA)
San Francisco ex-con Eddie Pedak wants to go straight but local cop Mike Vido, motivated by a personal vendetta, keeps harassing him while Eddie's brother, Walter, wants Eddie for one last major heist.


Ralph Nelson


Zekial Marko (screenplay), Zekial Marko (novel)
1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Alain Delon ... Eddie Pedak
Ann-Margret ... Kristine Pedak
Van Heflin ... Inspector Mike Vido SFPD
Jack Palance ... Walter Pedak
John Davis Chandler ... James Arthur Sargatanas, Walter's Henchman
Jeff Corey ... Lt. Kebner SFPD
Steve Mitchell Steve Mitchell ... Frank Kane
Tammy Locke ... Kathy Pedak
Tony Musante ... Cleveland 'Cleve' Shoenstein
Zekial Marko Zekial Marko ... Luke
Russell Lee Russell Lee ... Drummer
Yuki Shimoda ... John Ling, Chinese Funeral Director


Eddie Pedak, a convicted criminal, has a steady job, a wife and daughter and he puts a down payment on a boat. He also has a police detective and brother after him, the first believes Eddie shot him, the second wants him for one last heist. Written by Jonathan <jrd@netvision.net.il>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


ONCE A THIEF...ALWAYS A TARGET with the cops on one side - the killers on the other! See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Inspector Mike Vido's home address: 3 Peralta Avenue, San Francisco, California. It is in the Bernal Heights neighborhood, just south of the Mission District. In 2019 the house is valued at approximately $1.6M. See more »


[first lines]
Drummer: Let me hear you say, "Oh, yeah!"
Big Al's Crowd: Oh, yeah!
Drummer: Let me hear you say, "Oh, yeah!"
Big Al's Crowd: Oh, yeah!
See more »


Featured in The Background Beat (1965) See more »


The Right To Love (Reflections)
Written by Lalo Schifrin & Gene Lees
Performed by Irene Reid
See more »

User Reviews

ONCE A THIEF (Ralph Nelson, 1965) **1/2
5 August 2007 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

In the wake of having watched Alain Delon in Joseph Losey's THE ASSASSINATION OF TROTSKY (1972), I decided to check out three other vehicles of his I had taped off TV over the last few months – beginning with this one, which emerges to be just as pretentious as Losey's film! Best described as a beatnik noir, we've seen this film's story told a million times before – that of a criminal who can't escape his past, dogged as much by old associates as by an obsessive police nemesis. Consequently, director Nelson and cinematographer Robert Burks (best-known for his longtime collaboration with Alfred Hitchcock) handle the generally clichéd material for more than it's worth – even if my viewing was somewhat compromised by the film being panned-and-scanned.

Delon and Ann-Margret make for a handsome couple - although she occasionally tries too hard and her histrionics seem more at home in a Tennessee Williams melodrama; Van Heflin is appropriately world-weary as the aging cop, Jack Palance is typically intense as a crime boss and Delon's elder brother. The rest of Palance's gang is made up of the odd-looking and memorably creepy John Davis Chandler and Tony Musante – while Jeff Corey appears as Heflin's irate superior. The film's screenwriter Zekial Marko (adapting his own novel) is featured in an unintentionally hilarious supporting role as a druggie who shares a cell with Delon – we follow his case intermittently throughout (for no very good reason other than to justify the similarly hapless Delon's pursuit of crime) via newspaper clippings, denoting Marko's conviction to the gas chamber and eventually his suicide! The film is aided by a jazzy score courtesy of Lalo Schifrin, who seemed to specialize in crime/police dramas. The elaborate heist half-way through is an expected highlight, which then leads to a predictably downbeat and body-strewn climax.

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France | USA


English | Italian | Cantonese

Release Date:

8 September 1965 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Scratch a Thief See more »


Box Office


$1,893,325 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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