THE BIG STEAL is a story of a theft, the prize an Army payroll of $300,000. Our proponents are Lt. Duke Halliday(Robert Mitchum, Joan Graham(Jane Greer), Capt. Vincent Blake(William Bendix), Jim Fiske)Patric Knowles), and Inspector-General Ortega)Ramon Novarro).
Fiske is the one who actually stole the payroll, Halliday is the one blamed for it, and Blake is Halliday’s boss who’s pursuing him. Joan Graham is the wronged woman pursuing the man who ripped her off. Ortega is the Mexican policeman who knows something is wrong and kind of ambling, along with his aide, Lt. Ruiz(Don Alvarado), until the players sort themselves out.
The film is one long chase across Mexico.
Lt. Halliday had been paymaster of his base, the man in charge of picking up the cash each month for his base, and returning to distribute it. Fiske hijacks the cash at gunpoint and heads to Mexico where a fence, Julius Seton(John Qualen), waits. Blake pursues him with a murderous rage. Joan Graham is the woman swept off her feet by the handsome Fiske, “borrowing” two grand before disappearing without a word..
The film opens on an ocean liner docking in Mexico, with Halliday burst in on by Blake where a fight breaks out. Knocking Blake out, Halliday steals his I.D. papers befoe exiting the ship where he bumps into Graham.
Nicely done black-and-white film with a couple of twists thrown in along the way, directed by Don Siegel and based on the short story “The Road To Carmichael’s” by Richard Wormser, a pulp writer who wrote screenplays and did tie-in work as well, which is my only knowledge of his work.