Once a Thief (1965) is a English,Italian,Cantonese movie. Ralph Nelson has directed this movie. Alain Delon,Ann-Margret,Van Heflin,Jack Palance are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1965. Once a Thief (1965) is considered one of the best Crime,Drama,Thriller movie in India and around the world.
Eddie Pedak, a convicted criminal, has a steady job, a wife and daughter and he puts a down payment on a boat. He also has a police detective and brother after him, the first believes Eddie shot him, the second wants him for one last heist.
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Ordinary crime plot, written by Zekial Marko from his novel "Scratch a Thief", is given vivid, hyperkinetic Ralph Nelson direction, beginning in a jazz club with a drum solo that is crazy-cool. Marko and Nelson really lay on the mid-'60s jive, but Nelson's quasi-European handling and groovy cinematic tricks make the film visually arresting. Story concerns ex-thief in San Francisco, trying to lead a clean life with his wife and little girl, fingered for the murder of a Chinese storekeeper by the police sergeant who hates him; worse, his shady older brother is in town wanting his help in pulling off a job. Interesting characters (one of the villains is a fey platinum-blonde punker years before his time) and performances, with Ann-Margret doing some of her best dramatic work as Alain Delon's wife. The talky lulls are given a boost by Marko's slangy, hip dialogue and by Nelson's fervent rhythm, but some may see all this as just ridiculous. It's certainly amusing, and the San Francisco locales are a big plus. *** from ****
Any semi-serious movie buff or even casual viewer should be able to see that this film practically screams "Coen Brothers," 30 years before their time. The creepy blond character in "Fargo" is a dead ringer for the creepy blond bad guy in "Once a Thief," right down to the hairstyle. And the general ambiance of many scenes, as well as the ironic plot twists near the end, indicate that this movie was a big influence on the Coen bros, and to some extent, "where they went to school." It should also be noted that though this is film noir, it's also "hip" film noir, a rare breed that includes Larry Moyer's "The Moving Finger" and precious few others of the time. In fact, both these movies were too hip for their time.
The beginning of this picture, from the jazzy opening credits and into the next reel or so, is rather engaging. At its best, it is stylish in that French New Wave Meets American Beatnik kind of way, frequent in popular culture of the time. The dialogue is peppered with hepcat slang and frank references to narcotics and so-called "deviant" sexuality. This is daring stuff for a 1965 release from MGM. Beautiful widescreen black-and-white photography from Robert Burks, who had by then done several Hitchcock films. The steady hand of director Ralph Nelson keeps the picture moving, often punctuated by moments of unexpected brutality. PC this is not! The story itself is popcorn stuff, perhaps best not explored too deeply, but a great cast helps to enliven the material. By today's standards, the character played by Ann-Margret would never be depicted in such a fashion as seen here. (At one point, she apologizes after being slapped around.) But hey, she's under the seductive spell of Alain Delon, a Frenchman playing an Italian. No, it's not "The Asphalt Jungle". Neither is it a total waste of time, as it's often described as being. It's a good example of a mid- '60s studio potboiler, capably and professionally (and sometimes artfully) handled by all parties concerned. If your bag lies elsewhere, go on and fetch it, then. I'm rewinding the tape so I'll be ready to watch "Once a Thief" again soon.
In San Francisco, two men kill a Chinese woman after robbing her store. One of the thieves has the same characteristics of the Italian immigrant Eddie Pedak (Alain Delon) and he becomes the prime suspect of Inspector Mike Vido (Van Heflin). Eddie is an ex-thief that was found not guilty for shooting Vito in a bank heist, but the inspector blames him. Presently Eddie is married with a child with Kristine Pedak (Ann- Margret), works as a truck driver and has put a down payment on a fishing vessel with his savings. Out of the blue, Eddie's brother and gangster Walter Pedak (Jack Palance) and his henchmen Arthur Sargatanas (Davis Chandler) and Cleveland 'Cleve' Shoenstein (Tony Musante) visit Eddie to invite him to participate in a one-million dollar heist. Eddie loses his job and his personal life is deeply affected by Vito since he can not find another job. He decides to meet his brother and accepts to participate in the hold up. Meanwhile Vito discovers that Eddie was actually framed in the Chinese murder. He visits Eddie to disclose his findings to him but Eddie has already participated in the plan. What will happen to him? "Once a Thief" is an engaging film with a non-original story and unfair conclusion. The direction and performances are top-notch but the situations are inspired in many film-noirs. The deceptive hopeless conclusion will certainly disappoint many viewers. My vote is seven. Title (Brazil): "A Marca de um Erro" ("The Mark of a Mistake")
I suppose I like the cast better than the film, itself. Heflin, Palance, Ann-Margret, Chandler, and Delon are all watchable. This may very well be Chandler's finest performance (and he was always good at playing bad guys). The story is one we've all seen before, many times, yet the cast makes it worth watching. Ann-Margret might not have been as good as she could have been, but she's not really that bad. Even the scenes involving the little girl work well, and the chemistry between she and Delon is exceptional. The surprise ending is tense and exciting. Too bad there's no DVD of this film. I'd buy it. Johnboy