The Big Caper
by Ruben R. Rosario
Now available on on-demand DVD from the MGM Limited Edition Collection.
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Robert Stevens’ The Big Caper is an excellent heist film and an fantastic addition to MGM’s Limited Edition Collection. The film follows Frank Harper (Rory Calhoun), a con man that keeps losing all of his money on gambling. With his losing streak at an all time high, Frank decides to come up with a big heist and runs it by his boss, Flood (James Gregory). The plan is to knock off a bank in a small town, carrying a million dollars in cash that belongs the military. Frank and Flood’s girlfriend, Kay (Mary Costa), would move into the town together, pose as a newly wedded couple and assimilate themselves into the community. While they do this, Flood would then gather the rest of the crew in order pull off the heist of a lifetime. The film may lack grace and elegance under Stevens’ control, yet The Big Caper still packs a punch in terms of its subject matter and it’s execution that make it an awesome excursion in heist cinema.
The core of any heist film is how the team comes together to pull everything off. Flood’s character manages to get the lowest of the low, which include an alcoholic pyromaniac and a closet homosexual with a body building fetish. It is the dark and seedy elements within characters such as these that make The Big Caper so much fun to watch. This and the juxtaposition of Frank and Kay’s false identities as the ideal nuclear family, that create tension within the group that make for plot and pacing. Martin Berkley’s adaptation of Lionel White’s novel is rock solid and an efficient for its entire 84 minute running time. Another reason why the film’s pacing may work so well is the fact that Stevens has a big background within TV directing and probably managed to be efficient, since he was used to working under pressure. The only downfall of coming from a background like this is the fact that the film lacks any flair whatsoever. While this isn’t a bad thing at all, it just shows that The Big Caper doesn’t carry the same finesse as something like Wells’ Touch of Evil or Kubrick’s The Killing when exploring such similar territories.
While the MOD discs from the MGM Limited Edition Collection always come with a disclaimer of visual and audio quality being based off of what they had on hand, I can say that the materials procured for The Big Caper are some of the best they’ve had in their vaults. The image was really crisp and clear and the audio quality was really great.
As a big fan of heist and crime films, I can definitely say that The Big Caper is worth your time if you love those genre’s and makes for some really great entertainment. Highly Recommended!
Ruben R. Rosario is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He’s an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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