Noir movie review
William Bendix crashes into Robert Mitchum’s steamship stateroom flashing a gun.
“Where is it Halliday?”
We don’t know who or what Bendix is looking for, but Mitchum slugs him, steals his ID identifying him as Army Capt. Vincent Blake and scrams down the gangplank into the bustling dockside crowd of Veracruz, Mexico.
Action in the 1949 film The Big Steal starts quickly and confusingly. Halliday maneuvers his way through the crowd berating souvenir hawkers and other locals for getting in his way.
Another debarking passenger, Joan Graham (Jane Greer), chastises him for throwing his weight around, especially when he doesn’t speak Spanish.
“It’s men like you who make people like them contemptuous of tourists. Doesn’t it occur to you they don’t understand?”
When Halliday is blocked by an insistent peddler selling a caged parrot, he relents and buys the bird. With an insistent squawk, it swears in Spanish. He hands the bird to Graham and ducks out when he sees Blake at the top of the gangway.
Graham gets a cab to a hotel where she surprises Jim Fiske (Patrick Knowles) in his room. After he proposed to her in the States, he ran off with $2,000 she loaned him. Now that she’s caught up with him, she wants it back.
When he tries to sweet talk her, she slaps him in the face and demands the money. She wants the money, not him.
“Come on. Hand it over. I was saving that money for my trousseau,” she says in mock distress.
“Oh, darling, your pride’s been hurt because I went away without a word.”
“And stayed away without several.”
“Will you try to believe there was a reason, a good one.”
“Sure, you wanted to surprise me. By not coming back.”