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  • THE GREAT JEWEL ROBBER was released by Warner Bros as the bottom half of a double feature, an added attraction to the bicentennial documentary "50 Years Before Your Eyes." I saw it with my Dad at the Warner Theatre in Washington, DC and still remember it and the lasting impression it made.

    The summary on this site is honest but simply inadequate to the film's merits; the intensely convincing performance by David Brian as well as the unusual inclusion of a strong point-of view. What sticks in the mind is the jewel thief's absolute and irreversible commitment to his trade and lifestyle. The film wants you to understand that he sees no alternative at all to being a jewel thief any more than a leopard sees any alternative to being a hunter. Actually, changing the leopard's ways would be easier. The film wants you to revel somewhat in each clever success, and in association and deceit of high society people; but much more than that it wants you to appreciate the pain, misery and depression involved. Another time caught, another long prison sentence, another delay in returning to crime --- his joy in life.

    Seeing this at age 12, did I then follow David Brian's lead and enter a life of crime? Not at all; the film was more of a dissuader than any other crime film. I also had strong religious training, the more important of the two.

    I saw a Randolph Scott movie tonight with David Brian as the bad guy and The Great Jewel Robber was quickly remembered after 57 years. I can't recommend the movie, I suppose. Dismissed by Warners in 1950 as a B movie, I have no clue how you could see this movie, never seen it rerun, not one time.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    David Brian was great here. Why? He was able to show in his acting that he could be a suave character, but at the same time, vicious, when he had to be.

    This true story follows his burglary career from New York to California. It is amazing how he is able to elude capture from police for so long.

    Jacqueline de Wit was just perfect as the wealthy California woman taken in by our charming Brian. Marjorie Reynolds showed real vulnerability as the nurse, who became his wife, and ultimately turned him in.

    Obviously, this is Brian's film and he certainly made the most of it. His narration of it was wonderful and really gets you to think at the end. Was it really the end for this sophisticated thief?
  • boblipton1 August 2012
    Peter Godfrey directs a Borden Chase script of one of the Warner Brothers' "ripped from the headlines" B movies. Although several sequences recall other, better remembered movies -- the prison escape is a fast-track version of a similar bit from I AM A FUGITIVE FROM A CHAIN GANG -- the best description I can offer is that this is a criminal procedural -- the hows and wherefores of how a crook goes about his profession, instead of the more familiar police procedurals, of how they are caught.

    Peter Godfrey, who never got out of the Bs despite some great work, is very sure-handed in his direction, with bit of dark humor shot through the work. Bill Lava's obtrusive score is heavy-handed, but the rambling, worried lead character played by David Brian is very real, and the treacherous world he lives in is well captured by Chase, who started out as a gangster's chauffeur -- until Al Capone had his boss killed and Chase decided to go into a safer line of work.
  • If I had to describe jewellery thief Gerard Graham Dennis in one word that word would have to be "Shyster". Actor David Brian plays a very convincing thief named Gerard Graham Dennis, a womanizer and shyster who will go to great lengths to get his next fix, his next big score. It is a well done film and actor David Brian is so convincing when he enlists one woman after the next to support his career choice, as a jewel thief, and yet he has no scruples whatsoever leaving each woman behind once he has pulled his last caper. I felt truly sorry for each woman who fell for this shyster as I really thought he was being sincere that he loved each of these woman and he was going to turn his life around, but he deceived me as I am sure he deceived most of his film's audience.

    There are some suspensful moments and the cops got close to arresting him and then he would slip through their fingers and handcuffs time and time again. I won't give up the ending and spoil it for you, you will have to see it for yourself.

    It is worth an 8 out of 10 rating.
  • "The Great Jewel Robber" is based on the real life crook, Gerard Dennis. I did a bit of research and Dennis really was a famous jewel thief and at least SOME of what's in the movie is true. However, since he was active in the 1940s, there really isn't much information about him on the internet...so how true the film version of his exploits is, I cannot say.

    David Brian was an extremely good actor who's pretty much forgotten today. While apparently a nice guy in real life (who was big on fundraising for the needy), in films he often played wonderfully hardbitten jerks. In this one, however, he's more suave and likable....but clearly he plays a total sociopath! And, when it comes to portraying the life of a career criminal and antisocial personality (the clinical term for a 'sociopath'), Brian and the writers did a terrific job...and they packed a LOT into 91 minutes of film. My daughter kept remarking how the film had enough plot for seven movies! Overall, extremely well made and worth seeing....and also interesting because unlike most films of the era, the cops in this movie are amazingly inept and the criminal is amazingly talented and brilliant in his real-life maneuvers to evade them.

    By the way, while this film technically isn't exactly film noir (since it's true and lacks the lighting and cinematography of such a crime film), it's amazingly brutal in spots...particularly when the anti-hero is beating up one of his many ladyfriends.
  • Watching The Great Jewel Robber I have to wonder why an A list actor like James Cagney or Humphrey Bogart didn't grab on to this story. David Brian did a great job as our protagonist but had either CAgney or Bogart did this one The Great Jewel Robber would be a classic.

    Brian is a professional thief in every sense of the word. Stealing jewels and furs his is a professional attitude. He's one of the best in his trade and would prefer no violence, but is ready if needed. He also would prefer to work alone as you see in this film it's those he trusts are either cowardly, incompetent or treacherous.

    Borden Chase best known for westerns Red River and Winchester 73 a couple of favorites of mine wrote the screenplay. Right up to the end Brian proves to be very clever, more lives than a cat. The last chase sequence is well done and well edited for suspense.

    A really great product from Warner Brothers B picture unit.
  • Pretty good thick-ear, based on the true life exploits of master jewel thief Gerard Dennis. Seems Dennis has an eye for beautiful things, both women and big-time gemstones, and doesn't much care how he goes about getting them. Actor Brian looks the womanizing part with enough smiling charm to access society's higher reaches where fancy baubles suddenly disappear, while he just keeps smiling. And why not, since some of Hollywood's classiest looking dames—deWit, Talton, Chandler—fall for him in short order. But, as we were all taught by old movies like this one, crime doesn't pay, at least for some people.

    I like the way director Godfrey keeps things moving, especially that nail-biting 'human fly' sequence. Also, the screenplay manages a few minor surprises, thanks to ace scripter Borden Chase, whose real life exploits give him inside exposure to crime and criminals (check out his rather surprising bio). Heck, the script even has Dennis trying to pick up cheap blonde Cleo Moore while his wife looks on, in a nifty little sequence. However, I think the material would have worked better as noir instead of less expressive docu-drama. In fact, the film has an overall drab look, unbefitting the sometimes sumptuous surroundings and the strong narrative drama.

    Nonetheless, for an obscure programmer, the movie is fast moving and better than average.
  • Having just seen the ridiculously cheap "The Dark Road" directed by Alfred Goulding (a zero inventivity Alfred, complete opposite of Hitch), I remembered this great Peter Godfrey jewel robber movie with the threatening David Brian who is rarely mentioned in cinephilic discussions. We see him in "Flamingo road", "Intruder in the dust", "Beyond the forest", "the Damned don't cry", his four previous movies. Then he gets lost in standard B movies directed by Fred Sears or Ray Nazarro. In this "Great jewel robber", his performance is outstanding and really frightening. Peter Godfrey is a competent director, he did "the Two Mrs Caroll", before getting lost in tv in the 50's like so many B directors.
  • ksf-22 May 2019
    When Gerry Dennis (David Brian) escapes from prison, everyone is hot on his trail. He gets money from his current girl, calls up an old girlfriend to pull more jobs, and even hooks up with a nurse when he gets injured. He must be a smooth operator. but he doesn't seem to learn his lesson, when a couple of con jobs go bad. Co-stars Marjorie Reynolds and John Archer. Story by Borden Chase, who had actually been a driver for the mob, probably giving him many fine story ideas. Directed by Peter Godfrey, a former bigshot in stage production before working in hollywood. Godfrey worked in some pretty big films, both as actor and later as director. the closing credits state that the mayor of New Rochelle actually played himself! This one is pretty plain and simple, no real surprises. as films and television always tells us, There is NO perfect crime !