The Big Money
- 1h 26min
Petty thief Willie Frith steals a suitcase full of bank notes, only to find out that they have been given all the same serial number. But this is only the start of his troubles, now he has t... Read allPetty thief Willie Frith steals a suitcase full of bank notes, only to find out that they have been given all the same serial number. But this is only the start of his troubles, now he has to find a way of changing the notes, so he can impress the barmaid of his local pub.Petty thief Willie Frith steals a suitcase full of bank notes, only to find out that they have been given all the same serial number. But this is only the start of his troubles, now he has to find a way of changing the notes, so he can impress the barmaid of his local pub.
Ian Carmichael is the black sheep of a family of thieves (father James Hayter, mother Kathleen Harrison, sister Jill Ireland). One day he heists a briefcase from a dodgy clergyman (Robert Helpmann) which is full of pound notes. Unfortunately they all have the same serial number! Carmichael is seduced by "the big money" and starts passing the counterfits, one bill at a time. Much of his need for money is to impress a pretty barmaid (Belinda Lee) at his local pub. She dreams of the millionaire who will come and give her the good life. This keeps the plot going as Carmichael has to find new ways to pass more and more counterfits, one at a time, and impressing his girl at a fancy nightclub and the Ascot races. Along the way two con-men (George Coulouris and Michael Brennan) try to con Carmichael. Unfortunately Carmichael can't pass the counterfits fast enough to keep up with Lee's aspirations, we're now up to a mink coat, so she helps herself to some of the counterfits. I'm afraid to say that giving the fur shop four hundred notes with the same serial number does attract the attention of the police. Obviously the clergyman and his henchman have also been seeking whoever has stolen his briefcase.
Almost without exception the actors seem to be having fun. Hayter and Harrison relish their parts as straight laced thieves (although the young Ireland has nothing to do but look lovely). Helpmann, more noted in ballet than films, is an incisive villain with a dash of the devil. Coulouris and Brennan, trying to get Carmichael's attention to their scam while he would rather moon over Lee, are delightful. Lee herself, amply displaying why she was a pin-up of the 50's, handles the transition from good girl, to temporarily seduced by wealth back to good girl with charm. Carmichael easily handles many physical bits of comedy with his usual success. Although it did take me a while to accept his performance because I'm so used to seeing him as an upper class twit rather than lower class thief.
The film is well paced by the director (John Paddy Carstairs) and technical credits, including color photography, are fine.
I'm surprised that I had not seen this film before and suspect that ownership or other commercial factors may have prevented it from being included in the movie packages being sold to television in North America. That would be the only reason why this undiscovered film is not more fully appreciated. Certainly the actors and film makers have given us every reason to appreciate this film.
- Feb 28, 2002