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The Big Steal

The Big Steal DVD cover.
Directed by Nadia Tass
Produced by Nadia Tass
David Parker
Written by David Parker
Starring Ben Mendelsohn
Claudia Karvan
Steve Bisley
Marshall Napier
Damon Herriman
Music by Chris Gough
Philip Judd
Cinematography David Parker
Editing by Peter Carrodus
Distributed by Hoyts Distribution
Release date(s) 20 September 1990
Running time 99 minutes
Country Australia
Language English

The Big Steal is a 1990 Australian film directed by Nadia Tass starring Ben Mendelsohn, Claudia Karvan and Steve Bisley. David Parker was the scriptwriter and cinematographer. The film won several awards.



In his first leading role Ben Mendelsohn plays Danny Clark, a bumbling eighteen-year-old guy. He knows what it takes to be cool and have some style, it's just that he seems to struggle to get there. Danny has enthusiasm and passion and only wants two things more than anything in the world. A Jaguar XJ6 and a date with the gorgeous Joanna Johnson (an early role for then 17-year-old Claudia Karvan). Get these and his life will be complete.

Unfortunately for Danny, when he finally gets the courage up to ask Joanna out, he somehow manages to promise her a ride in his new Jaguar. She isn't particularly impressed by cars, but still agrees to his invitation. The problem is, Danny doesn't own a Jag. His form of transport is his recently received birthday present - and it most certainly isn't a Jaguar. His eccentric parents have decided to pass on their pride and joy to Danny for his use. Their 1963 Nissan Cedric has been in the family for years and is immaculate, but extremely uncool. Danny is aghast at the thought of driving around in a car as dorky as a Cedric, and with the promise of a date with Joanna and the need for a Jaguar in a hurry, decides to trade in the old Nissan. He heads out to search the car yards to find his dream machine.

In a role of pure sleaze Steve Bisley plays Gordon Farkas, the villainous used car salesman. He is the sort of dealer who results in car salesmen being consistently ranked last on a survey of trust and ethics in careers. Spotting Danny admiring a used 1973 XJ6 in the lot, Farkas pounces and uses all his charm, cunning, and every used-car salesman trick in the book to convince Danny that this is the car for him. With the deal done and the Cedric gone, Danny heads home with his new pride and joy. But this is where things start to unravel. His father is not impressed about losing the Cedric, and while out on his long-awaited date with Joanna, the Jag's engine blows up. Danny is shattered, particularly when he upsets Joanna and she leaves him stranded alone in the empty streets with a broken-down car. Closer inspection reveals the engines had been swapped after Danny had signed the contract, with a dud motor put in his car. Realising he's been done-over by the crooked Farkas, Danny and his mates hatch a plan to get revenge over the shonky car salesman and hopefully win back the hand of the lovely Joanna.


  • Ben Mendelsohn as Danny Clark
  • Claudia Karvan as Joanna Johnson
  • Steve Bisley as Gordon Farkas
  • Marshall Napier as Desmond Clark
  • Damon Herriman as Mark Jorgensen
  • Angelo D'Angelo as Vangeli Petrakis
  • Tim Robertson as Desmond Johnson
  • Maggie King as Edith Clark
  • Sheryl Munks as Pam Schaeffer
  • Lise Rodgers as Mrs. Johnson


The film won the Best Screenplay (David Parker & Max Dann), Best Original Music Score (Phil Judd) and Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Steve Bisley) and was nominated for 6 more Awards at the Australian Film Institute (AFI) for 1990.[1]


Music: Chris Gough and Philip Judd.

Includes songs by Philip Judd and Tim Finn, The Makers, Schnell Fenster, Boom Crash Opera, Mental As Anything, Bang The Drum, The Breaknecks, Big Storm and The Front Lawn.[2]



  • Murray, Scott (editor), Australian Film, 1978-1994, Oxford, 1995. ISBN 0-19-553777-7

External links


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