review for The Big Steal on AllMovie

The Big Steal (1949)
by Craig Butler review

For a film noir, The Big Steal is surprisingly light. Unlike noirs such as The Big Sleep, which lace the darker proceedings with plenty of humor, Steal is fairly amusing all the way through. The setup and the stakes are serious, but the execution, even at its most action-packed, is handled with a sense of humor. Those looking for typical noir existentialism will be disappointed, but most will find themselves drawn in by Steal's charm. Certainly, the cast deserves a great deal of credit for the film's success. Robert Mitchum is in especially fine form, mining the energy that lies beneath his laid-back, world weary demeanor to very good effect. Jane Greer is a perfect foil for him, and the two also have an undeniable chemistry that adds to Steal's power. William Bendix is also showcased well here, but it's Ramon Novarro who delivers the film's most enjoyable performance. Don Siegel's direction is all about pacing, which is all to the good in this instance, and he's aided by some exceptionally crisp editing. If The Big Steal falls short of classic status, it's because it's ultimately a caper film without a lot of depth to it; but if it's little more than one long chase, it's still an entertaining ride.