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  • The Big Heat  [1953] [VHS]
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The Big Heat [1953] [VHS]


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Product details

  • Actors: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando, Alexander Scourby, Lee Marvin
  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Writers: Sydney Boehm, William P. McGivern
  • Producers: Robert Arthur
  • Language: Castilian
  • Classification: 15
  • Studio: Vci
  • Run Time: 86 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00008T30S
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 351,961 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

Product Description

A violent gang plant a bomb in a cop's car. But his wife is the victim as the car explodes. Out to avenge her death, and having already uncovered corruption within the police force he is determined to expose the gang.

From Amazon.co.uk

There's a satisfying sense of closure to the definitive noir kick achieved in The Big Heat: its director, Fritz Lang, had forged early links from German expressionism to the emergence of film noir, so it's entirely logical that the expatriate director would help codify the genre with this brutal 1953 film. Visually, his scenes exemplify the bold contrasts, deep shadows, and heightened compositions that define the look of noir, and he matches that success with the darkly pessimistic themes of this revenge melodrama.

The story coheres around the suicide of a crooked cop, and the subsequent struggle of an honest detective, Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford), to navigate between a corrupt city government and a ruthless mobster to uncover the truth. Initially, the violence here seems almost timid by comparison to the more explicit carnage now commonplace in films, yet the story accelerates as its plot arcs toward Bannion's showdown with kingpin Lagana (Alexander Scourby) and his psychotic henchman, the sadistic Vince Stone, given an indelible nastiness by Lee Marvin. When Bannion's wife is killed by a car bomb intended for the detective, both the hero and the story go ballistic: suspended from the force, he embarks on a crusade of revenge that suggests a template for Charles Bronson's Death Wish films, each step pushing Lagana and Stone toward a showdown. Bodies drop, dominoes tumbled by the escalating war between the obsessed Bannion and his increasingly vicious adversaries.

Lang's disciplined visual design and the performances (especially those of Ford, Marvin, Jeanette Nolan as the dead cop's scheming widow, and Gloria Grahame as Marvin's girlfriend) enable the film to transcend formula, as do several memorable action scenes--when an enraged Marvin hurls scalding coffee at the feisty Debby (Grahame), we're both shattered by the violence of his attack, and aware that he's shifted the balance of power. --Sam Sutherland

--This text refers to the DVD edition.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 33 people found the following review helpful By P. C. Walsh on 18 Dec. 2006
Format: DVD
It took a German director to produce this great American fim noir. It isn't surprising when you find out that Lang also directed 'M'a dark study of the hunt for a serial child killer (played by Peter Lorre!) before moving to Hollywood.

Although Glenn Ford is perfectly OK as the upstanding cop who vows vengeance after his wife is killed (look out for Brando's sister in a rare screen role) it is Lee Marvin and especially the great Gloria Grahame that provide the zing.

Dark and brutal this is what film noir is all about.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By The TV Man on 23 Mar. 2009
Format: DVD
This will be short but sweet - the best lines, the best direction, the best acting, the most uncompromising script (specially taking into account it was made in 1953), if you love Film Noir and dont have this in your collection then order it now! If you think you'd like it but maybe put off because as some people i know say 'I wanna watch it but its black and white' then i'd advise you never watch a film again and just watch the likes of Davinna McCall and Simon Cowell and be content with living your life through telephone voting. The Big Heat is a Masterpiece, real genius like this doesnt cost a phone vote.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Humpty Dumpty on 29 July 2009
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
===Elements of the plot will be discussed===

This is an exceptional Fritz Lang film. Were it not for the slight overload of plot crammed into its 89 minutes (taken from a weekend newspaper serial) that reduces the scope for dwelling in a little more depth on the nature of the corruption it exposes, I'd give it *****.

This story of a straight detective (Glenn Ford) embarking on a trail of vengeance out of professional and more especially boiling personal motives falls into the film noir category, even though paradoxically it has most of its being in well-lit interiors. Its pessimistic tone (the hopeful ending need not be taken too seriously) and subject matter of deception and corruption everywhere, with ordinary people going along with criminality out of fear or just a feeling of helplessness, link it with film noir. So does Gloria Grahame's femme fatale, especially since her own final act of revenge on her violent boyfriend (Lee Marvin), though helpful to putting criminals behind bars, is a cruel and similarly violent one.

The script is sharp and pretty bitter, and it's a little surprising to see Glenn Ford, hitherto on a downward spiral into the very mire of evil inhabited by his quarries, pause when on the verge of taking his final vengeance against Lee Marvin, then relent, shrug off the mantle of vigilantism and instead reach for the institution of the law. A significant moment that marks the beginning of Ford's own rehabilitation from both bereavement and consequent revenge.

Direction and acting are first rate. Fritz Lang wastes not a moment in cramming in all the plot machinations, from the dramatic close-up that kicks the picture off to his brief but bruising fight sequences.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Film Buff on 29 May 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Big Heat (1953) is Fritz Lang's greatest achievement of the '50s. There are those (especially in France) who acclaim Moonfleet (1955), and it is possible to argue that his last urban thrillers (Beyond a Reasonable Doubt and While the City Sleeps - both 1956) are hugely under-rated, but The Big Heat is so obviously a great film noir that one is tempted to say it is indeed Lang's final masterpiece. Its greatness lies in the tight no-fat Sidney Boehm script which features barely a scene or line of dialogue which fails to develop a story which hurtles along at breakneck pace to deliver it's sophisticated revision of the noir genre with the full force of a gun in the gut. Take the film's opening for example. In the first 4 minutes all the main characters are introduced, the plot is initiated and developed, and the film's main theme of the exposure of corruption is telegraphed as clear as a bell. Lang achieves this by the brilliant use of the telephone. The first shot shows a gun on a desk (note the absence of any establishing shot). A hand picks it up. We hear the gunshot off-screen, the camera dollying back (a Lang trademark this) to reveal a man slumped dead over his desk, his police badge and a letter in front of him. Obviously this is the suicide of a crooked cop. Enter the wife (Jeanette Nolan) next to one of Lang's clocks showing the time to be 3:00 AM - yet another of Lang's destiny machines is up and running. Is the woman horrified? No, she is involved in the corruption. She reads the letter and picks up the phone. Does she call the cops? Again no. It is the henchman of mobster Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby) who picks up and hands the receiver on to his boss. Lagana thanks Mrs. Duncan for the information and advises she now call the police.Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By GlynLuke TOP 100 REVIEWER on 16 April 2014
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
With Glenn Ford (such an underrated actor) at his best, all restrained intensity as good cop Bannion, glorious Gloria Grahame as winning as ever, Lee Marvin gangly and dangerous in an early gangster role, and the too rarely seen Jocelyn Brando (Marlon`s big sister) excellent as Bannion`s wife, The Big Heat is one of the most enjoyable late film noirs - it`s from 1953 - and one of Fritz Lang`s most tightly directed movies.
Glenn Ford now looks like one of the most quietly powerful actors of Hollywood`s `Golden Age`, and it was taut performances like this one that made him such big box office for so long. He had a rare ability to portray a kind of slow-burn tension, here a homely family man who is also perhaps an eternal loner, and who may well be hiding a few unexorcised demons. He has reason enough for the cold rage Ford does so well by the second half of this relentless thriller. It`s a deftly masterful performance.
Lee Marvin gives notice of how natural he could be, as well as how smilingly vicious. Then there`s the notorious pot of scalding coffee...
Gloria Grahame was born for roles like this one, both tough and vulnerable, the ultimate tragic moll. She`s terrific here, almost as if she were in her own world, in a film of her own devising.
Alexander Scourby, a suave, beautifully spoken actor better known in the US than here, is slickly superb as the mobster kingpin, with Adam Williams (later to turn up as a similarly slimy baddie in Hitchcock`s North By Northwest) good as one of his lowly minions, a big baby-faced heel you just know won`t make it to the final reel.
Twenty-two year-old Carolyn (Morticia Addams) Jones, in her sixth film, has a brief but effective scene getting mauled by Marvin in a bar.
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