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The Big Combo (1955)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 13 February 1955 (USA)
A police lt. is ordered to stop investigating deadly crime boss Mr. Brown, because he hasn't been able to get any hard evidence against him. He then goes after Brown's girlfriend who despises him, for information instead.

Director:

Joseph H. Lewis (as Joseph Lewis)

Writer:

Philip Yordan (by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cornel Wilde ... Police Lt. Leonard Diamond
Richard Conte ... Mr. Brown
Brian Donlevy ... Joe McClure
Jean Wallace ... Susan Lowell
Robert Middleton ... Police Capt. Peterson
Lee Van Cleef ... Fante
Earl Holliman ... Mingo
Helen Walker ... Alicia Brown
Jay Adler ... Detective Sam Hill
John Hoyt ... Nils Dreyer
Ted de Corsia ... Ralph Bettini
Helene Stanton ... Rita
Roy Gordon Roy Gordon ... Audubon
Whit Bissell ... Doctor (scenes deleted) (as Whit Bissel)
Steve Mitchell Steve Mitchell ... Bennie Smith
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Storyline

Police Lt. Diamond is told to close his surveillance of suspected mob boss Mr. Brown because it's costing the department too much money with no results. Diamond makes one last attempt to uncover evidence against Brown by going to Brown's girlfriend, Susan Lowell. Written by Norman L Cook <cook@ssdgwy.mdc.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The Most Startling Story The Screen Has Ever Dared Reveal!


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Swedish

Release Date:

13 February 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Hoodlum See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was considered very daring for its time. Cornel Wilde's detective character is clearly having a casual sexual relationship with Helene Stanton's Rita, while the film quite openly infers that the two henchmen played by Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman are in a homosexual relationship. See more »

Goofs

When John Hoyt as Dreyer reaches into his desk for a gun, the contents of the desk on the insert close-up do not match the contents on the master shot. See more »

Quotes

Leonard Diamond: Mr. Dreyer, the secret you think keeps you safe will blow up in your face. You're dealing with a... a ruthless man!
Nils Dreyer: [Unperturbed] Mr. Diamond, I was a seaman for 30 years. I went to sea aged 14. I've seen storms, I've seen gunfire, and I've seen torpedoes. I've been wrecked - not once, four times. On a raft, 57 days, nothing but water. Nothing kills me. I'll die in Stockholm like my great grandfather, aged 93. I'm not scared of anything - including you - so, get out.
Leonard Diamond: [...]
See more »

Connections

Featured in Los Angeles Film Noir (2015) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Shadow and Light and Boys Together
16 July 2006 | by meeker-1See all my reviews

There really should be a deluxe DVD box-set of films with "The Big" in their titles -- preferably "The Big" followed by one more word.

Naturally, you would have to have Howard Hawks' "The Big Sleep" from 1946 and Fritz Lang's "The Big Heat" from 1953.

If I wanted to attract hate mail, I could probably also insist on including two David Nelson circus films, particularly 1959's "The Big Circus," but also the rather overlooked "The Big Show" from 1961.

From 1955 alone you could come up with Robert Aldrich's "The Big Knife" and Joseph H. Lewis' s "The Big Combo."

"The Big Combo" is an unusually good film noir with more of the chiaroscuro lighting effects than you get in some other more famous noir classics and way more than you get in the archetypal David Nelson circus film.

You also get a gay couple -- very unusual for a 1955 Hollywood film! Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman play two thugs named Fante and Mingo, who work for bigger thug Richard Conte. Some classic Hollywood films, as reported in Vito Russo's "The Celluloid Closet," have some fairly specific gay content, but some of them only have the reputation and not much content. However, it's really there in "The Big Combo." Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman live together, slay together, and apparently love each other. Watch the basement hideout scene near the climax. They caress each other! It's the most believable relationship in a very brutal and fascinating movie.


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