As I’ve mentioned in this NYT Sunday crossword blog previously, Sunday puzzle themes are either kind of an afterthought, marginally relevant to solving the puzzle, or, alternatively, very helpful, once you get the idea of theme, to solving the grid. This one falls mostly in the latter category: Once you get the idea of the theme, it’s a big help to solving the puzzle.
The title is usually helpful. “Stolen produce” suggests that something might be being deleted from an answer. And several of the long clues refer to another clue as needed to understand them. The “other clue” (e.g. 29-across for 23-across and 66-across for 60-across) seems to have a connection to produce. So my suggestion is to try to get one of the “other clues” and its related long clue once you’ve got a few letters filled in on the long clue. This is a situation where you might think there’s a rebus (multiple letters in a single box) because correct answers don’t fit the space allowed, but there’s something a bit trickier going on here.
Some hints to specific clues:
20-Across: Actress Chaplin in “Game of Thrones”: older solvers know this name as the first name of Charlie Chaplin’s wife
34-Across Eighty-sixes: Think Latin for a farm animal
51-Across On the q.t.: 2 words. Psst, don’t tell anybody!
1-Down Car with a lightening bolt in its logo: Think of a small foreign car that isn’t a Yugo
2-Down The Tide: No, not the soap, another nickname for a football team
6-Down Poe poem: Think ode and the battle of Troy
30-Down They’re way out: Think house hunting, but don’t go too far out
82-Down Enthusiastic reply: 3 words
90-Down “Holiday Inn” star: No, not the motel. Think dancing feet (and toes)