HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Await Further Instructions
Ewoks: The Battle for Endor
In Order of Disappearance
Charlotte's Web
Meg, The
Christmas Blood
Equalizer 2, The
1985
Mowgli
Ski School
Ant-Man and the Wasp
Age of Shadows, The
Mission: Impossible - Fallout
Othello
First Reformed
Red White and Zero
Death Wish
Cry Wilderness
Heiresses, The
Millhouse: A White Comedy
Skyscraper
Born of Fire
Teen Titans Go! To the Movies
Lucia
Yanks
Sweet November
Ballad of Buster Scruggs, The
Real Men
Shoplifters
Redeemer
   
 
Newest Articles
Phone Freak: When a Stranger Calls on Blu-ray
A Name to Conjure With: David Nixon's Magic Box on DVD
Which 1950s Sci-Fi was Scariest? Invaders from Mars vs The Blob
The Empire Strikes Back: Khartoum vs Carry On Up the Khyber
Stan and Ollie's Final Folly: Atoll K on Blu-ray
The Big Grapple: Escape from New York and Its Influence
The Conquest of Everett: The Kenny Everett Video Show on DVD
Bout for the Count: Hammer's Dracula in the 1970s
Nopes from a Small Island: Mistreatment of American Stars in British Films
You Know, For Kids: Children's Film Foundation Bumper Box
If He Were a Carpenter and It Was the 80s: The Fog, Prince of Darkness and They Live
Tee-Hee, It's 80s Sci-Fi Horror: Night of the Comet, The Stuff and Night of the Creeps
Chance of a Ghost: The Uninvited and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir
3 Simian Slashers: Phenomena, Link and Monkey Shines
When is a Jackie Chan Movie Not a Jackie Chan Movie? Armour of God and City Hunter
   
 
  Big Steal, The South of the BorderBuy this film here.
Year: 1949
Director: Don Siegel
Stars: Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, William Bendix, Patric Knowles, Ramon Novarro, Don Alvarado, John Qualen, Pascual Garcia Peña
Genre: Comedy, Thriller
Rating:  7 (from 2 votes)
Review: Newly-arrived in Vera Cruz, Mexico, army fugitive Duke Halliday (Robert Mitchum) eludes pursuing policeman Captain Blake (William Bendix) and sets out to track down Jim Fiske (Patric Knowles), the man who framed him for stealing the army payroll. Posing as Blake, Duke breaks into Fiske’s hotel room only to find the devious con man has fled the scene, leaving fiancée Joan Graham (Jane Greer) alone in the shower. Soon they’re on the lam together. As Joan starts piecing the truth together about Fiske, her antagonistic relationship with Duke blossoms into romance, but the relentless Blake remains hot on their trail.

Based on the short story “The Road to Carmichael’s” by Richard Wormser, RKO studios purchased the screen rights from Columbia Pictures - where it was at various times mooted as a vehicle for Chester Morris, George Raft and even a Spanish language picture - as an opportunity to re-team stars Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer after the classic Out of the Past a.k.a. Build My Gallows High (1947). Whereas that was a dreamy, doom-laden, darkly romantic film noir, The Big Steal was an altogether more lighthearted affair. Although something of a rush job with a stop-and-start production structured around Mitchum’s then-recent marijuana bust and Greer’s pregnancy, along with a plot that is more or less one long chase, the finished film is assembled with wit and style.

Expertly handled by Don Siegel, the script is a model of brisk, economical efficiency, keeping the characters on the move, feeding information as things charge along and packing some good twists, witty asides worthy of a screwball comedy and scene-stealing supporting characters. Notably Ortega (Ramon Novarro) the Mexican police captain whose English might not be as good as he thinks it is, but who nevertheless proves smarter than everyone else. Dependable character actor William Bendix is also memorable as the increasingly exasperated Blake. One wonders whether the screenwriters of Romancing the Stone (1984) drew at least some inspiration from this zesty comedy-thriller given the evocative Latin milieu, presence of a brawny, deceptively amoral hero, duplicitous policeman plus a heroine named Joan who throughout the course of an adventure discovers a resourcefulness she never knew she had, share something in common with that Eighties action favourite.

It could be argued that wit and pace were the defining characteristics throughout Siegel’s eclectic career, whether crime classics like The Lineup (1958) and Charley Varrick (1973), his iconic science fiction film Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), underrated John Wayne western The Shootist (1976) and of course, breakout smash hit Dirty Harry (1971). Here he crafts taut set-pieces (especially the car chase and shootout on the rocks) and wisely centralises the sparky and vivacious characters etched by a charismatic Mitchum and Greer, whilst including some rather beautiful shots of the Mexican scenery without making the film look like a travelogue. Sadly, it seems the film is most widely available in a colourised version. Thanks a lot, Ted Turner.

Click here for the trailer

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1533 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Don Siegel  (1912 - 1991)

Respected American director, a former editor, whose action thrillers were second to none. He started out in lower budget movies like The Big Steal, Riot in Cell Bock 11 and The Lineup but come the sixties he started making higher profile work such as the remake of The Killers and Madigan. His fruitful partnership with Clint Eastwood gave us Dirty Harry and Escape from Alcatraz, among others. Another of his finest 1970s films was Charley Varrick.

Siegel had small acting roles in Play Misty for Me and Philip Kaufman's Invasion of the Body Snatchers - he had directed the classic original in the 1950s.

 
Review Comments (1)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star do you think makes the best coffee?
Emma Stone
Anna Kendrick
Michelle Rodriguez
Sir Patrick Stewart
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Stately Wayne Manor
George White
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Aseels Almasi
Rashed Ali
   

 

Last Updated: