Ruthless criminals, a dedicated honest cop, sultry women and a gripping plot - all the elements of a classic police action-drama are here in force. Police Sergeant Bannion (Glenn Ford) is investigating the apparent suicide of a corrupt cop, then is suddenly ordered to stop - and The Big Heat is on. Driven to unravel the mystery, Bannion continues probing until an explosion meant for him, kills his wife. He resigns from he force and soon learns that behind it all is the powerful underworld led by Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby) and his cold-blooded henchman, Vince Stone (Lee Marvin). When Stone's girl Debby (Gloria Grahame) makes a play for Bannion, Stone disfigures her face and in revenge, she tells all she knows. A life-or-death confrontation between Bannion and Stone brings this classic film noir thriller to a climatic unmissable finale!
Sometimes in the American gangster film the baddies can be somewhat endearing, the villains you love to hate, not in this Fritz Lang film noir, the baddies are really bad. None badder than Lee Marvin as Vince Stone, his top lip perspires with evil.
The plot is precise and richly written by Sydney Boehm, some great one liners all of them barbed with evil. The most sinister aspect of the plot is the seemingly expendable role of the women, justice is done at the end but at the awful expense of the horrible deaths of the main women characters.
Glen Ford is great as the detective on a mission weighed down by worries and Brylcreem and Gloria Grahame reveals emotional subtlety behind her great looks.
Classic Fifties Crime Film.
- The Big Heat review by Steve Mason
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Searing noirish expose of the rackets. Gloria Grahame is wonderful/sexy as the moll disfigured by Lee Marvin's hoodlum. Glenn Ford is most compelling as a bereaved, vengeful cop. Fritz Lang's great American film.