For Reel

The Big Steal (1949)
July 16, 2012, 10:01 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Don Siegel

Director Don Siegel would earn his reputation in Hollywood during the 1950s with a number of high quality B-pictures, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Baby Face Nelson. Before that, he was enlisted by RKO Pictures to direct Out of the Past stars Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer in The Big Steal, a slight, but hugely satisfying chase thriller about a lieutenant and a girl racing across Mexico in pursuit of the $300,000 that has been stolen from army payroll. Again, the pairing have great sexual chemistry (though, really, could Mitchum look uninterested talking to any beautiful woman?), bouncing off of each other with quick-witted put downs and comebacks. Most memorably, they arrive at a closed road and Greer charms her way through by convincing the foreman that she and Mitchum are lovers on the run because her father wants her to marry another man. When she kisses Mitchum in an attempt to validate the farce, he perks up for the rest of the film as if he were a predator who has gotten a whiff of blood. With a supporting cast including reliable heavy William Bendix and the Mexican-born Ramón Novarro as an affable but sly Police Inspector, The Big Steal might not carry the intrigue of Out of the Past‘s iconic fatalism, but it is well-crafted and boundlessly entertaining all the same.

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