In a tour-de-force performance, Ray Milland plays as an American nuclear physicist caught up in a spy ring smuggling top-secret U.S. schematics straight from Washington, D.C., to unknown whereabouts overseas. But when one of his couriers is hit by a New York taxi and found to be carrying microfilm with confidential information, the heat, quietly but surely, comes down on Milland and his conspirators.
Entirely devoid of dialogue, The Thief is a sinuous pas-de-deux between cinematographer Sam Leavitt (Carmen Jones, The Crimson Kimono) and Milland, already an expert in portraying desperate isolation thanks to The Lost Weekend a few years earlier. The film’s first half—set in the nondescript offices, stately government buildings, and seemingly abandoned streets of the capital—has a Kafkaesque dimension. But when Milland splits for New York in the hopes of boarding an ocean liner, the film basks in the city’s congested immensity. When not sequestered in his grimy flophouse—where the smoldering femme fatale down the hall (Rita Gam) won’t stop making eyes at him—Milland drifts through the city: from Central Park to neon-soaked Times Square to the observation deck of a high-rise for a fateful showdown. Reuniting the team behind the Los Angeles crime classic D.O.A.—Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene—this singular cold war curio is a whirlpool of surrealist delirium in noir garb.
Bing Theater | Included with admission to Where the Sidewalk Ends. | $5 for this film only | Tickets: 323 857-6010 or purchase online