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Illegal (1955) - The Big Steal (1949) (Film Noir Double Feature) (1949)



Lewis Allen, Don Siegel


Edward G. Robinson, Nina Foch, Hugh Marlowe, Jayne Mansfield, Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, William Bendix


Crime, Drama Classics, Film Noir, Mystery-Suspense, Thriller, US Classics







Running Time:

160 min

Illegal (1955) - The Big Steal (1949) (Film Noir Double Feature)


Illegal (1955):
Ambitious, competitive D.A. Victor Scott (Robinson) sends an innocent man to the chair. It was a mistake, but that doesn't help the man who was executed. Now the man the newspapers called the Napoleon of the Courtroom not only has his career destroyed, but his belief in himself as a prosecutor. He quits as D.A. From now on Scott will fight for the defense.

Before long Scott is defending crooks and killers. He's aggressive in the court, using every trick, emotion and manipulation to win. It's not long before he finds himself ensnarled in the affairs of the powerful Frank Garland, a kingpin of oil wells, breweries, trucking, hotels, investment companies and vice. Garland is a man who buries his mistakes. Sooner or later Victor Scott, manipulator extraordinaire of juries, is going to come face to face with his conscience, especially when Ellen Miles (Nina Foch), a woman he realizes he may love, is charged with murder and Garland is involved. He'll have some decisions to make.

It's always a pleasure to watch Nina Foch at work. Jayne Mansfield shows up in her first movie as a singer in a nightclub who earns Garland's pay in more ways than one.

The Big Steal (1949): Kathie Moffat and Jeff Bailey may have survived that big car crash two years earlier. Now, under assumed names and with a much brighter outlook on life, they're back on the road, this time in Mexico. Thanks to the Production Code, the interference of new studio owner Howard Hughes and some marijuana that Robert Mitchum, in the middle of filming, was busted for smoking, The Big Steal is not exactly a mess, just a good natured near-mess. Here's the deal on the steal:

Jim Fiske (Patric Knowles) stole a bundle of military payroll money and pinned it on Lieutenant Duke Halliday (Robert Mitchum). Duke has just arrived in Vera Cruz hot on the trail of Fiske to set things straight, but then Army Captain Vincent Blake (William Bendix) shows up on Duke's trail. He was Halliday's superior. Jim Fiske turns out to be a bounder as well as a thief; he made off with $2,000 of his fiancée's money. Joan Granham (Jane Greer), now the irritated ex-fiancée, is in Vera Cruz to get her money back. Duke and Joan reluctantly join forces, and off they go down Mexican highways and through scenic villages toward Tihuacan to bring rough justice to Fiske. Captain Blake is right behind them. Tracking them all for some reason is Inspector General Oriago (Ramon Navarro) of the Mexican police.

The movie mostly is lightweight fun but doesn't really know what it is. Still, Jane Greer is first-rate as the feisty and skeptical Joan. Robert Mitchum looks sleepy and tough, but he also shows a sense of humor as Duke. William Bendix, as he sometimes does, might surprise you. This south of the border road movie is rocky in patches, but it works as well as it does because of the chemistry between Greer and Mitchum and the bickering between Joan and Duke. There are swerving, speeding mountain chases, fistfights, gun fights and lots of goats. Much of the movie was filmed in Mexico, and that helps, too.

Both movies look fine. There are commentary tracks for both and each has one or two extras. *MR




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