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The Big Steal (1949)

The Big Steal poster

When is a film noir not a film noir? When it’s a fast and funny send-up shot in daylight by DoP Harry J. Wild on location in Mexico. The stars of Out of the Past/Build My Gallows High were reunited with that film’s writer Daniel Mainwaring (adapting from a story by Richard Wormser) and Don Siegel directed this with tongue firmly in cheek in and around Puebla. Mitchum is wrongly believed to be responsible for an army payroll robbery, he chases the culprit, while William Bendix chases him and Greer is the woman who becomes his sidekick. Ramon Navarro is the lazy local police chief and it all ends up in a noir-ish indoor shootout. Greer got the role after she rejected Howard Hughes in favour of marriage to someone else and it was originally thought to be a nothing role but she acquits herself sensationally. Both Jane Russell and Lizabeth Scott were removed as a result of Mitchum’s recent marijuana bust. Great fun, with some cracking lines and a keen sense of its own silliness. There were two more noir parodies, His Kind of  Woman, which also starred Mitchum in Mexico for RKO, and Beat the Devil, made by John Huston in Italy, but this is the original of the species. Step on it, Chiquita!

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About elainelennon

An occasional movie-watching diary.

One response to “The Big Steal (1949)

  1. This is a little gem. It’s fast and funny. It’s a movie I enjoy revisiting from time to time.

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