The Big Heat (1953)

Det. Sgt. Dave Bannion: "Hey, you know something? You ought to be doing radio commercials. How to talk a lot and say nothing."
By Fritz Lang
With Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin

The Big Heat was a similar movie after I watched The Stranger (1946) and it intrigued me, because I felt like I heard that title somewhere but I had never seen it. I decided to give it a shot, not only because it's a Film-Noir, or because it is directed by Fritz Lang of both M (1931) and Metropolis (1927) fame, but because the cover picture simply looked stunning, with that lady face in smoke and 'The Big Heat' written under that.

The Big Heat starts off with a man shooting himself in his house. We then learn that he is a police officer. Detective Sergeant Dave Bannion investigates the case and while there is no doubt about it being a suicide, he seems to turn up some facts that lead in the direction of blackmail, organised crime and corruption in the ranks of the police. When his investigation is being stopped from him, he takes the matters in his hands, but not without putting himself at risk.

What struck me at first were the dialogues. I really enjoyed them: they were witty, well delivered, entertaining and mysterious all at once. The story was interesting, and even though corruption of the police force is a topic that has been dealt with a lot, the film was not repetitive at all. The actors play out their roles with great conviction and the trench coats and hats of the era add to the classical effect. The filming is not spectacular in any inventive matter, but it follows the intrigue well and has a few shots that remind us of the menacing streets  seen in M (1931).

I liked: Great unfolding of the story. Great villain played by Lee Marvin. Dialogues. Fearless leading cop.

I disliked: Mike Lagana didn't seem so scary for a man who runs a crime syndicate. Can be a little predictable.

This movie should not disappoint anyone who gets into the first 20 minutes, as the intrigue unfolds and we embark with Dave Bannion on his "hate-binge".


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