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The Big Steal (1990)

To impress a girl a shy teenaged boy buys a used Jaguar.


Nadia Tass


Max Dann (additional material), David Parker
3 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Mendelsohn ... Danny Clark
Claudia Karvan ... Joanna Johnson
Marshall Napier ... Desmond Clark
Damon Herriman ... Mark Jorgensen
Angelo D'Angelo ... Vangeli Petrakis
Tim Robertson ... Desmond Johnson
Maggie King Maggie King ... Edith Clark
Steve Bisley ... Gordon Farkas
Sheryl Munks Sheryl Munks ... Pam Schaeffer
Lise Rodgers ... Mrs. Johnson
Frankie J. Holden Frankie J. Holden ... Frank
Mark Hennessy ... Jimmy
Roy Edmunds Roy Edmunds ... George
Mike Nikol Mike Nikol ... Dougy
Andrew Spence Andrew Spence ... Car pound policeman


Danny wants two things in life more than anything else, one is a Jaguar and the other is Joanna Johnson. After Danny's parents give him their beloved Nissan Cedric, Danny works up the courage to ask Joanna out on a date.... One problem! He tells her that he owns a Jaguar, and to prove otherwise, he trades in the Cedric for an early model Jag. At the car yard he is conned into believing he is getting the deal of the century by the salesman, Gordon "Farkas". Written by Glenn Stewart <glenn_stewart@hotmail.com>

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Release Date:

20 September 1990 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Grande Trapaça See more »

Filming Locations:

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Company Credits

Production Co:

Cascade Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo


See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Actor Ben Mendelsohn was aged around twenty portraying Danny Clark a character aged seventeen three years his younger. See more »


When Gordon puts down the phone after speaking with Mrs. Clark, a hand comes from under his desk to put the mouthpiece back in place. See more »


Danny Clark: I told her I got a Jaguar. It was in the heat of the moment.
See more »


Fun City
Written by Phil Judd and Michael Den Elzen
Performed by Schnell Fenster
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User Reviews

I was there!
5 March 2010 | by murray_d-1See all my reviews

I am Danny, and yes, I did have a girlfriend named Joanna who I was desperate to impress. My friends were there too: Alex, who actually was Russian but hung out with a group of Greek petrol heads, did indeed drive a Monaro - a Limited Edition in burgundy - and fancied himself something of a Lothario. My other good mate Peter would hate to have been told he was just a bit nerdy, but he was, and he worked part time at a parking station behind the cinema strip in Sydney while we were studying Engineering and going out and trying to impress the girls and all those things you do when you are 19 or 20.

My parents aren't perhaps quite as eccentric as the parents of the movie Danny, but they are close, and certainly keen on Scrabble and wordplay, and while there wasn't actually a Nissan Cedric in the family (it was actually a Mazda) it was a family in-joke. They also happened to be friends with some of the people involved in making this movie, so stories about my misadventures with the Jaguar, and Joanna and so on obviously got back.

The strangest thing it was then to see the movie, in company with several of the people whose lives were depicted, when it first came out. We had no real inkling of where the story had come from, beyond "hey, it is about a boy with a Jag, like yours". So many scenes I'd lived through (and some I only wished I had) were up there on the screen. And so many in jokes, like the reference to the Jensen Interceptor (which Peter had), and the horror of being caught driving a Volvo. Joanna really did say "nice car - what is it?" and "I'm not really into cars", though to some extent her character is an amalgam of the real Joanna and another girl I went out with (who had a father in the property development game, and who did front me to tell me what he expected and what would happen if I misbehaved with his daughter). The Jaguar really did leave me in the lurch in the middle of the Cross and on several other occasions, and undergo an engine swap, and there's too many others to list. Farkas was a lot like the bloke in the Eastern Suburbs to whom I traded the Mazda on the Jaguar too: Steve Bisley may not have met him but he really nailed the character.

In fact in the end I came out of the cinema thinking "how did they know all about that" and "I didn't think I'd even told Mum and Dad some of that stuff", and with my friends asking the same question. That is how close to the truth it was.

My view of it all is therefore coloured, but I did really enjoy it. It really is a picture of a time I remember with fondness, and in some respects where it didn't quite happen the way it is depicted well, it should have.

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