A Movie A Day: Quint on THE BIG STEAL (1949)
I hate the thought of spending the night with an empty revolver.
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with today’s installment of A Movie A Day.
[For those now joining us, A Movie A Day is my attempt at filling in gaps in my film knowledge. My DVD collection is thousands strong, many of them films I haven’t seen yet, but picked up as I scoured used DVD stores. Each day I’ll pull a previously unseen film from my collection and discuss it here. Each movie will have some sort of connection to the one before it, be it cast or crew member.]
Today we hit THE BIG STEAL, following the winning team of Jane Greer and Robert Mitchum over from yesterday’s OUT OF THE PAST.
Up front, this movie’s not nearly as good, but it is fascinating watching it back to back with OUT OF THE PAST. In OUT OF THE PAST the two meet in Mexico. Here, the two characters meet in Mexico. In OUT OF THE PAST Greer is a schemer, here she is a schemer, but not nearly as cold-hearted. In the last one, Mitchum got his ass kicked a lot when they fought, same here, even though we know he’ll come out on top in most of the dust-ups.
Basically you have an army guy (Mitchum) being hunted by a man named Captain Vincent Blake and we soon come to discover that Mitchum is being accused of stealing a large sum of money and is hunting for it.
I guess the suspense is supposed to be from not knowing if Mitchum is guilty and trying to recover the stolen money from yet another thief or if he’s just trying to clear his name, but it becomes apparent pretty early on that Mitchum’s a solid hero through and through.
Greer gets mixed up in this when her sleazy boyfriend hits her up for some money, claiming to have a sure thing coming. This guy has the dough and is making the trade-off with some dudes in Mexico for less hot bills.
The flick is lighter, much lighter, than OUT OF THE PAST, playing to the comedy a lot more. Introduced is a very Claude Rains in CASABLANCA-like Mexican police official, Inspector General Ortega (Ramon Novarro) who smells the money and always pops up at the most opportune moments, avoiding bloodshed and forcing the main trio to act nice.
There’s also a great running gag about the name of Capt. Blake. In an earlier scene (the one from the still up above) Blake, played by William Bendix, gets into a fist fight with Mitchum and Mitchum wins (of course he did, or there wouldn’t be a picture), taking his wallet and ID with him, which he uses throughout his search for his money. Of course the real Capt. Blake is always on his heels, so he starts getting really pissed off when people tell him Capt. Blake has already been there.
I wonder if that was taken from something else or if I can say that MIDNIGHT RUN ripped that off straight from this movie, since that’s essentially what happens to Yaphet Kotto’s Alonzo Mosely.
Final Thoughts: The flick is enjoyable, but more of a comedy than a noir. Greer is still beautiful, Mitchum still lazy-eyed and confident, but neither character here is as interesting as their more complex and darker characters in OUT OF THE PAST. Still, once you realize you’re not watching a sister-picture to OUT OF THE PAST you can enjoy the flick for what it is, a cute crime comedy that will never be mistaken for slapstick, but also shouldn’t be considered a heavy noir.
The schedule for the next 7 days is:
Friday, July 25th: WHERE DANGER LIVES (1950)
Saturday, July 26th: CROSSFIRE (1947)
Sunday, July 27th: RICCO, THE MEAN MACHINE (1973)
Monday, July 28th: IN HARM’S WAY (1965)
Tuesday, July 29th: FIRECREEK (1968)
Wednesday, July 30th: THE CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB (1970)
Thursday, July 31st: THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1956)
Tomorrow we hit the next Mitchum noir, this time 1950’s WHERE DANGER LIVES co-starring Faith Domergue, Maureen O’Sullivan and the great Claude Rains. See you folks then!
June 2nd: Harper
June 3rd: The Drowning Pool
June 4th: Papillon
June 5th: Gun Crazy
June 6th: Never So Few
June 7th: A Hole In The Head
June 8th: Some Came Running
June 9th: Rio Bravo
June 10th: Point Blank
June 11th: Pocket Money
June 12th: Cool Hand Luke
June 13th: The Asphalt Jungle
June 14th: Clash By Night
June 15th: Scarlet Street
June 16th: Killer Bait (aka Too Late For Tears)
June 17th: Robinson Crusoe On Mars
June 18th: City For Conquest
June 19th: San Quentin
June 20th: 42nd Street
June 21st: Dames
June 22nd: Gold Diggers of 1935
June 23rd: Murder, My Sweet
June 24th: Born To Kill
June 25th: The Sound of Music
June 26th: Torn Curtain
June 27th: The Left Handed Gun
June 28th: Caligula
June 29th: The Elephant Man
June 30th: The Good Father
July 1st: Shock Treatment
July 2nd: Flashback
July 3rd: Klute
July 4th: On Golden Pond
July 5th: The Cowboys
July 6th: The Alamo
July 7th: Sands of Iwo Jima
July 8th: Wake of the Red Witch
July 9th: D.O.A.
July 10th: Shadow of A Doubt
July 11th: The Matchmaker
July 12th: The Black Hole
July 13th: Vengeance Is Mine
July 14th: Strange Invaders
July 15th: Sleuth
July 16th: Frenzy
July 17th: Kingdom of Heaven: The Director’s Cut
July 18th: Cadillac Man
July 19th: The Sure Thing
July 20th: Moving Violations
July 21st: Meatballs
July 22nd: Cast a Giant Shadow
July 23rd: Out of the Past
Readers Talkbackcomments powered by Disqus
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July 24, 2008, 2:42 p.m. CST
I deny second, completely.
July 24, 2008, 2:47 p.m. CST
Any wonder he was busted for weed?
July 24, 2008, 2:52 p.m. CST
by Sailor Rip
in Mitchum's puppy dog eyes.
July 24, 2008, 3:25 p.m. CST
...after the big rec yesterday. I'll try and watch tonight and see if this one is worth searching out as well. This is still a fun run you've got going Quint.
July 24, 2008, 4:04 p.m. CST
CHEYENNE SOCIAL CLUB? Not seen that for years. A splendid comic Western. And it'll be interesting to see what you make of MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH. Not seen this Mitchum, so I'll definitely look it up.
July 24, 2008, 4:06 p.m. CST
by Rick Flemming
cares about these old movies! They didn't even have color, and you can't hear them very well. I will take my summer blockbusters, thank you very much! flemmingonfilms.blogspot.com
July 24, 2008, 4:13 p.m. CST
by Richard Hoaxland
The last month has been a trip down memory lane. In the days before rentals, to see movies like these I remember driving into L.A. to revival houses like the Vista, Rialto, New Beverly Cinema, Nuart, and that one on Wilshire near Rampart ... A Bogart film fest would come around maybe once a year. Then we'd drive over to the time machine that is the Pantry Restaurant on Fig and 9th and be served by the ex-cons.
July 24, 2008, 4:20 p.m. CST
The Cheyenne Social Club is a brilliant film and will no doubt make you feel ashamed for not having seen it till now.
July 24, 2008, 4:27 p.m. CST
They must have showed that on Channel 13 on the weekends about 50 times. If you didn't see the movie, you probably at least saw a quick promo for it.
July 24, 2008, 4:46 p.m. CST
by The Eskimo
...but will get it on Netflix for sure. Thanks Q!
July 24, 2008, 4:57 p.m. CST
One of a kind. I think I liked him more as a younger actor, when he had that youthful swagger about him. Is it me, or did he have a pre-Elvis Elvisness about him. Probably just me. <p> P.S. I hereby claim copyright to the word "Elvisness". You're allowed to use it at five bucks a pop.
July 24, 2008, 5:24 p.m. CST
Im just sayin
July 24, 2008, 5:36 p.m. CST
Instead of the usual cliches, the Mexican cop is smart here. You're right, it is a comedy noir, but there's not many of those around. It's great to talk about old films for a change!
July 24, 2008, 6:21 p.m. CST
Christ Quint you need a crash course in Hitchcock ASAP
July 24, 2008, 8:54 p.m. CST
yet he has the time to watch a vid and write a review? what a fuckin life
July 24, 2008, 10:25 p.m. CST
by Pizza The Hut
One of the greatest westerns ever
July 25, 2008, 9:10 a.m. CST
Video cut with the Phil Collins song from against all odds set to Out of the past. Will do a version from big steal when i finally geta good B/W copy. http://tinyurl.com/59kshr
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