Once a Thief packs both violence and young married love in unfoldment of its theme, aptly titled, about an ex-con trying to go straight, but constantly harassed by a vengeful cop.
Once a Thief has a San Francisco setting, where lenser Robert Burks makes interesting use of Chinatown and North Beach locations to backdrop story of $1 million platinum robbery and ultimate violent demise of each member of the five-man gang that pulled the job. Alain Delon not too unwillingly is pulled into the plot when he finds his wife, Ann-Margret working in a cheap nightclub so they may live.
Delon delivers strongly. He’s the romantic type who excels also in rugged action. Ann-Margret, too, is firstrate in her role. Van Heflin, as a police inspector who thinks Delon once shot him, and Jack Palance, as Delon’s gangster brother, also star.
Heflin, as Delon’s nemesis effectively plays the relentless police officer, and Palance, with less footage, similarly scores.