I was in the mood for early Mitchum last night, so I put in "The Big Steal" (1949) with Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer, William Bendix, Patric Knowles, Ramon Novarro, and the old Swede/Norwegian, John Qualen (here not so nice and quaint!). Great noir style film with moody Mitchum, a softer (compared to "Out of the Past") but still tough and simultaneously more romantic Jane Greer, a slam-bam pugilistic William Bendix, and, surprise of surprises, a bad-guy-Patric Knowles, still very nicely groomed and good-looking thirteen years after playing the other brother of Errol Flynn in "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1936), but here anything but the kind of individual with whom you'd want to keep company. The chase scenes throughout the film in those 1947-8-9 automobiles are fabulous, and it is so obvious how bad the springs were in the cars of those days as they bounce and bound around corners and even in the straightaways at fast speeds. The film is made even more inviting by the location shooting. It was shot in Veracruz, Mexico, Tehuacán, Mexico, Mexico City, and a few scenes on the Ray Corrigan Ranch in Simi, California and a few others at the famous Iverson Ranch just inside Los Angeles. Directed by Don Siegel, this was one of his first. Holds up to perfection! Good to see Ramon Novarro getting a decent part again, too. He's a Mexican cop - imagine that - José Ramón Gil Samaniego, born in Durango, Mexico.
Afterwards, watched "Illegal" (1955) with Edward G. Robinson, Nina Foch, Hugh Marlowe, Jayne Mansfield (in her first film, though second released), Albert Dekker, Howard St. John, Ellen Corby, and so many more actors you'd recognize from 50's and 60's TV, just one after the other. This is really a fine, well-crafted and acted film, a good "recovery" film for Eddie G. - he wasn't blacklisted, but he was certainly, during this time, grey-listed by HUAC. This is a re-make (the third time, actually) of "The Mouthpiece" (1932) which had originally starred Warren William. Robinson goes from DA who is so intent on convicting - and good at it - that he puts an innocent man to death and truly regrets it. The innocent man, by the way, is played by none other than DeForest Kelley, "Doc" in "Star Trek". Robinson then quits, becomes a ruthless mouthpiece, and eventually becomes entangled with a mobster, all which leads to - well, you can guess or watch the film. I really liked this film, as I had not seen it for probably as much as 25 years. The acting is first rate, the writing crisp, the directing and editing quite good, in my opinion. Robinson made some interesting films in 1955, this one and "Tight Spot" with Ginger Rogers and Brian Keith, "Hell on Frisco Bay" with Alan Ladd, and "A Bullet for Joey" with George Raft.
Both of these are on a new two-film release DVD from the Warner Archive Collection.