In 1957, the heist film "The Big Caper" was made. Featuring an adaptation of the novel by Lionel White, the film is directed by Robert Stevens ("Alfred Hitchcock Presents", "Never Lose a Stranger") and a screenplay by Martin Berkeley ("Tarantula", "Revenge of the Creature", "The Deadly Mantis").
The film would star Rory Calhoun ("Texan", "How to Marry a Millionaire", "River of No Return"), Mary Costa ("Sleeping Beauty", "The Great Waltz") and James Gregory ("The Manchurian Candidate", "Beneath the Planet of the Apes", "The Lawless Years").
"The Big Caper" revolves around Frank Harper (played by Rory Calhoun), a man who is in debt for gambling and wiped out his money on horse races.
Frank decides to pay his good friend and former bank heist professional Flood (played by James Gregory) to rob a small coastal town bank which is the bank used for the payroll for a nearby army base. But unfortunately, Flood has no intention of going to prison again and wants to live the good life.
But after Frank shows Flood the location and how there are not many police, it appears that there chances of success are high and both men are enticed to robbing the bank.
But first, Frank needs to fit in with the community and learn more about how things work in the small town. He and Flood's girlfriend, Kay (played by Mary Costa) purchase a gas station shop and immediately, they start to fit in with the community, making friends and even befriending a police officer.
And for Kay, she starts to enjoy the domestic life of cooking and having people over at their house. She also starts to fall for Frank, but Frank reminds her that this all for business and their plan is to rob the bank and he would never betray Flood by messing around with his girlfriend. But Kay tells Frank that she and Flood have been over for a long time, but he still remains loyal to his friend.
Meanwhile, Frank begins to assemble his team and hires Zimmer (played by Robert H. Harris), an alcoholic and pyromaniac. In addition, Flood brings his men, Roy and Harry (and his intrusive girlfriend Doll).
But when Kay breaks off her relationship with Flood, Flood begins to become jealous that Kay has taken a liking to her new "fake" life with Frank. Despite both Kay and Frank telling him that nothing happened between them, part of him doesn't believe it. Especially when Zimmer tries to fuels the fire by trying to get Flood jealous by telling him that he thinks that Kay is falling in love with Frank.
But when both Frank and Kay start to learn how violent Flood can be and that his jealousy has gotten the best of him and that he wants them dead.... what will happen to Frank and Kay?
Part of the worry of viewers who had bad experiences with MOD DVD's is its overall DVD pressing. Granted, those problems were much common during the beginning of MOD's several years ago but so far, I have not had any problems with MGM's Limited Edition Collection.
With "The Big Caper", its printed quite well with printing on top of the DVD, it's not a plain silver disc with letters. If you didn't know it was MOD, you would think it was an actual DVD release.
As for playability, I played "The Big Caper" on my Blu-ray player and DVD player with no problems. I then played it on my Mac and PC, no problems whatsoever.
VIDEO AND AUDIO:
"The Big Caper" is presented in black and white (1:33:1 full frame). Picture quality is actually good as there are not many blemishes or damage. You do see the occasional white specks and scratches but for the most part, contrast for the film look good and there is a fine layer of grain. Back levels are good and no sign of a major DNR.
Dialogue is presented in Dolby Digital, dialogue is clear.
"The Big Caper" comes with no special features.
When it comes to '50s heist films, among the best is Stanley Kubrick's 1956 film "The Killing".
MGM tried to repeat that success with their 1957 film "The Big Caper" but as "The Killing" focused on the characters and a bank heist gone wrong, "The Big Caper" goes a different route in which two of the robbers in the group, a man and a woman, disguise themselves as a couple and get used to their new life.
Granted, for the man...Frank, it's all about business and his goal of robbing the bank. For Kay, she always wanted that family life and wants to keep it that way, especially since she is falling for Frank.
The problem is, Kay is Flood's girlfriend and despite their relationship is pretty much down in the dumps, Flood has a reputation for a person not to be messed with.
The film focuses primarily on Frank and Kay who are changed by their life in the coastal town and the fact that they are falling in love with each other, it starts to cause problems in the overall planning of the heist as Flood can sense that something may be developing between the two and once again, you mess with Flood...bad things will come.
For the most part, "The Big Caper" has a feeling of a Monogram Pictures film (known for producing low-budget films in Hollywood) but with better location shots and maybe even a higher budget. While Flood and the pyromaniac Zimmer are worthy antagonists, the problem is that once you see a film like "The Killing", "The Big Caper" is almost lowered to something like a TV movie. It has dangerous people, but not dangerous enough. It has action, but only for a short duration.
Whereas "The Killing" made you wonder if they can pull of a heist, "The Big Caper" becomes less about the heist but more of the survival of Frank and Kay, as you know that Flood is going to turn on them.
Needless to say, the film doesn't stray far from any major twists and you can pretty much sense how things are probably going to end as the film makes things a bit obvious.
Still, "The Big Caper" does have charm, especially with the romance factor between Frank and Kay but I will say that how the film ends within the last minute, it's such an easy way-out which was typical for films at the time but I suppose this film can fit into the long list of films with the banality of happy endings. Although this happy ending felt cheap and contrived!
As for the DVD, as mentioned, picture quality was good and there is no major damage to the video or audio.
Overall, "The Big Caper" may not be anywhere near the quality of "The Killing" but if you are looking for a '50s heist films that is straightforward and banal, then give this film a try!