The Big Steal


The Big Steal

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 5


Audience Score

User Ratings: 540
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Movie Info

This breezy and unpretentious film noir from director Don Siegel starts off with fireworks. Duke Holliday (Robert Mitchum), an American army lieutenant, is on his way to Mexico by boat when he's confronted in his cabin by Blake (William Bendix), gun in hand, who plans on taking him back to the United States. Holliday gets away, pummeling Blake pretty hard in the bargain and stealing his identification, and crosses paths with Joan Graham (Jane Greer). It turns out that she's looking for the same man he is, a smooth-talking hood and grifter named Fiske (Patric Knowles), who took Holliday at gunpoint for 300,000 dollars in army payroll money and Graham for 2,000 dollars, in addition to her hand in marriage. They spend a lot of their time sizing each other up, not knowing how much to believe about the other while trying to catch up with Fiske, while Blake -- an army captain who's after Holliday for his alleged part in the robbery -- stumbles along a step or two behind them. These four end up playing cat-and-mouse across Veracruz, with Fiske always a half-step ahead, while police Inspector General Ortega (Ramon Novarro) calmly keeps tabs on all of them, trying to figure out (along with the rest of us) exactly who is on the level (in those days, especially after Out of the Past, there was no built-in assurance for audiences that Mitchum and Greer played characters with clean hands, and Mitchum is almost too good with the rough stuff here to be an obvious hero). Holliday and Graham engage in some surprisingly playful and suggestive banter during their travels, in between her keeping Holliday -- whose command of Spanish is less than minimal -- from adding too many new permutations to the phrase "the ugly American" in his dealings with the Mexicans. The mood is decidedly brisk and light-hearted at times, given the gunplay and violence that explodes at key intervals. The addition of John Qualen -- in one of the strangest roles of his career -- as a decidedly fidgety and neurotic presence in the last quarter of the story only adds to the undertone of quirkiness in this superb film noir.

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Robert Mitchum
as Lieut. Duke Halliday
William Bendix
as Captain Blake
Jane Greer
as Joan "Chiquita" Graham
Ramon Novarro
as Col. Ortega
Don Alvarado
as Lt. Ruiz
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Critic Reviews for The Big Steal

All Critics (5)

Audience Reviews for The Big Steal

  • Sep 13, 2018
    Don Seigel gives with a little advertisement for Mexican tourism as a chase for stolen Army money breaks over Mexico's highways. This isn't noir, or even a chase film (although it could apply to either), but rather an excuse for Greer and Mitchum to make with the goo-goo eyes at each other. Seigel throws in a fist fight or two lest the gents get too impatient. Decent. John Qualen, character actor extraordinaire, drops his nearly ever-present Swede accent for one movie, reason enough to watch!
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • Sep 23, 2011
    This is the second movie in a Film Noir Collection and its quite good. Robert Mitchun stars as Duke Haliday who appears to be on the run, chasing him is Army officer Captain Blake (William Bendix). It appears that Mitchum stole 300,000 dollars, this movie having been made in 1949 that's a huge chunk of change, but did he really steal it. Watch to find out, you will not be sorry, 4 1/2 stars
    Bruce B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    A sort of round-about chase movie with an interesting cast and story. I liked it.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Jun 16, 2009
    so so car chase thriller that takes our protagonists across mexico. not one of the finest robert mitchum has ever been in, but it's good enough to while away an hour
    Sanity Assassin ! Super Reviewer

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