Monday, August 06, 2007

The Big Steal

Every once in awhile I catch the first or last half of Don Siegel's The Big Steal. It's difficult for me to watch it all the way through because its nuttiness starts to numb me after half an hour or so and I can't appreciate how truly crazy this script is.

Talk about your McGuffins. The whole movie is focused on a suitcase that does or doesn't contain $350,000 that Army man Robert Mitchum was carrying to the paymaster before being stuck up at gunpoint by the caddish Patric Knowles. The thrust of the story has Mitchum tracking Knowles through Mexico trying to recover the money and clear his name. He is accompanied by the beautiful Jane Greer, the one-time fiance of Knowles. She made the mistake of loaning him $2000 and wants it back. They in turn are pursued by Army investigator William Bendix who wants to take the fleeing Mitchum into custody, believing that Mitchum is indeed guilty.

There are several moments when the film teeters on outright farce. The bits in the beginning when three different people stand in front of closed doors are virtually identical shots. There is even a car chase wherein all three cars take turns stopping/passing by the same dusty rundown gas station that reminds me of it's A Mad, Mad World.

But Siegel has his actors play it straight and that makes it all the more enjoyable. It's a shaggy dog movie in all the best senses.

If you've never seen it, put it near the top of your list. Its wackiness in unparalled in realm of the hardboiled.


Juri said...

I also enjoyed the film for the very same reasons.

Craig Zablo said...

Funny you should mention it... I just recorded it from TCM!