The Big Caper


1h 24m 1957

Brief Synopsis

A con artist moves into a small town to spearhead a payroll robbery.

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Action
Adaptation
Drama
Release Date
Jun 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Mar 1957
Production Company
P.T.S. Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Big Caper by Lionel White (New York, 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

Having exhausted his share of the proceeds from a recent robbery, minor league hoodlum Frank Harper persuades his boss, Flood, to take on a more ambitious project. Frank suggests that, on a weekend before a Monday payday, they break into a bank in San Felipe, California, which will be holding a million-dollar payroll for the Camp Pendleton Marine Base. Flood agrees and begins to plan the operation, sending his girl friend Kay with Frank to set up housekeeping in San Felipe and become established in the community to lay the groundwork for the robbery. As part of the plan, Frank buys a gas station and he and Kay, posing as husband and wife, move into a house nearby, although Frank wonders why Flood trusts him to live with his girl friend. During the next month, Flood recruits a team of specialists for the robbery, including veteran safecracker Dutch Paulmeyer. By now, Kay is enjoying her role as homemaker and tells Frank that she is ending her relationship with Flood. Although attracted to Kay, Frank refuses to compromise his friendship with Flood by pursuing her. Kay suggests that Frank buy a second gas station, try to go straight and abandon his criminal career. Later, Frank agrees to consider a relationship with her, but only after the bank robbery has been accomplished. In the following months, Frank and Kay establish a friendly relationship with banker Sam Loxley and his family. Part of Flood's plan is to create diversionary explosions around the town, which will occupy the police on the night they intend to break into the vault. Flood has hired Zimmer, an alcoholic explosives expert who is also a psychotic pyromaniac, to engineer the explosions. When Zimmer arrives in San Felipe, he moves in with Frank and Kay and Frank tries to keep him away from alcohol. When Kay is summoned to a meeting with Flood, Frank warns her to say nothing about their plans. At Flood's apartment, Kay encounters other gang members including Roy, a perverted, self-involved muscleman and lookout man Harry, who has brought his slatternly girl friend, Doll, with him. Kay informs Flood that she intends to leave him after the robbery, but asserts that she is not involved with anyone else, and that Frank is loyal to him. After Flood and the others arrive in San Felipe, Doll tells Flood that she wants a cut of the robbery, prompting Flood to order Roy to kill her. Flood then lies to Harry that Doll left after he gave her some money. Flood goes over the final plans for the robbery, in which Zimmer is to create several explosions at the school and the electric plant, thus disabling the alarms and distracting the police. On the night of the robbery, Frank and Kay attend an early evening barbecue at the Loxleys', where they hear a radio broadcast about the discovery of a young woman's body and realize from the description that it is Doll's. Kay decides she wants to leave immediately and asks Frank to go with her, but when Frank learns that Loxley's son is at a pageant rehearsal in the high school, which was supposed to be unoccupied that night, he decides to try to stop Zimmer. However, Zimmer knocks Frank out and blows up a paint factory, then heads to the high school. Meanwhile, Flood and the others have entered the store next to the bank and are breaking through the wall to the vault. Frank recovers and goes to the school where he finds the time bomb Zimmer has left and disables it. At the bank, Paulmeyer blows open the safe with a charge of nitroglycerin. Later, after Flood returns to Frank's house with cases full of cash, Frank knocks him unconscious and tells Kay to phone the police, intending to return the cash. Frank assures Kay that, no matter what charges they may face, somehow they will find a way to be together.

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Action
Adaptation
Drama
Release Date
Jun 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Mar 1957
Production Company
P.T.S. Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
United Artists Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Big Caper by Lionel White (New York, 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although some sources list the character played by Roscoe Ates as "Keeler," in the film he is called "Falkenburg." According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, The Big Caper marked the first time that Ates, who had appeared in dozens of films, did not use his signature onscreen stammer. A Hollywood Reporter news item of September 6, 1956 reported that Corey Allen replaced the injured Vic Morrow in the role of "Roy."

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer June 1957

Released in United States Summer June 1957