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The Big Heat (1953)

Not Rated | | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller | 6 December 1953 (Japan)
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Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Sydney Boehm (screenplay), William P. McGivern (Saturday Evening Post serial)
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2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Glenn Ford ... Dave Bannion
Gloria Grahame ... Debby Marsh
Jocelyn Brando ... Katie Bannion
Alexander Scourby ... Mike Lagana
Lee Marvin ... Vince Stone
Jeanette Nolan ... Bertha Duncan
Peter Whitney ... Tierney
Willis Bouchey ... Lt. Ted Wilks
Robert Burton ... Gus Burke
Adam Williams ... Larry Gordon
Howard Wendell Howard Wendell ... Commissioner Higgins
Chris Alcaide ... George Rose
Michael Granger Michael Granger ... Hugo
Dorothy Green ... Lucy Chapman
Carolyn Jones ... Doris
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Storyline

Dave Bannion is an upright cop on the trail of a vicious gang he suspects holds power over the police force. Bannion is tipped off after a colleague's suicide and his fellow officers' suspicious silence lead him to believe that they are on the gangsters' payroll. When a bomb meant for him kills his wife instead, Bannion becomes a furious force of vengeance and justice, aided along the way by the gangster's spurned girlfriend Debby. As Bannion and Debby fall further and further into the Gangland's insidious and brutal trap, they must use any means necessary (including murder) to get to the truth. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

VICE... DICE ...and CORRUPTION! See more »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 December 1953 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Big Heat See more »

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Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$6,324
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby) says, "Vince gave you two simple contracts". In the old days gangsters' slang, a "contract" meant "a murder on request". See more »

Goofs

When Bannion (Glenn Ford) confronts Larry Gordon (Adam Williams) in Gordon's apartment, Gordon's revolver is first seen behind Gordon, in the middle of the desk near the blotter. When Bannion picks up the revolver, it is several inches closer to the right-hand edge of the desk. See more »

Quotes

Tierney: All any of these dames owe me is a night's work, one night at a time. They come and go like flies.
Dave Bannion: Only this fly got herself strangled.
Tierney: These things happen, Sergeant. Outside of my place, some of these babes keep pretty shady company. It figures. They know nobody cares much what happens to 'em.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Terror Firmer (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

It's a Blue World
(uncredited)
Written by Chet Forrest and Bob Wright
Heard instrumentally during one of the scenes at The Retreat
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Gritty, brutal, intense and powerful – a fantastic pot-boiler than stands out almost half a century later
19 June 2003 | by bob the mooSee all my reviews

An honest, family man cop with a wife and daughter is put onto the investigation of another cop's suicide. He closes the case as suicide due to ill health. However when a women tells him another story and is promptly killed, Bannion just investigates further to find that powerful criminals and powerful politicians share the same table at dinner. When his family is split in an attack meant for him he loses his job and becomes bitter – he starts to become more like his enemies as he pursues them.

This is a hardboiled thriller that would still stand up today as a tough film – violence and attitudes that make it feel more modern than it is. The story follows the descent of family man Bannion into violence and bitterness when he not only loses what is important to him, but when he finds that corruption at high levels has fed down into rank and file officers causing him to stand out when he tries to catch a criminal.

The brutality of this film shouldn't be underestimated – Fritz Lang is no softy! Here we have women beaten and killed, we have sex crimes, we have a women disfigured by scalding coffee in her face. Of course all these things are unseen but this was the 50's! However it is still powerful and adds to the intensity of the film. The story may well have been done many times now – but imagine seeing something like this back then!

The cast are great. Ford descends into bitterness really well and seems at ease as both thug and family man. The female cast are good in different ways but the one that catches the eye is a young Lee Marvin. I suspect Marvin got fame because his coffee attack stuck in people's minds – even today he is best know as a tough guy in the movies.

Overall this is well worth hunting out – it is still being copied by many video thrillers and it just goes to show that you don't have to show gory or graphic violence on screen to be powerful, gritty or shocking.


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