The Big Heat

1953, Movie, NR, 89 mins

Review

BIG HEAT, THE
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A scalding face-full of harsh reality, courtesy Fritz Lang. Starkly photographed and without a continuous score, the absence of which underlines the hard-hitting dialogue and the sound of smacking fists and thudding bullets, this film is as brutal as Lang's M was frightening. Ford, an ex-cop out to avenge the mob murder of his wife, gets upstaged by two performances of incredible power: Grahame and Marvin. Grahame plays a moll who squeals and pays; her performance defines the film noir anti-heroine, and in a world of comedic 1950s sex, she was the real thing, either coming along too late or too soon. Marvin moved his career up a definite notch as the sadistic killer.

This film, along with a spate of others, was spawned by the 1950 US Senate crime investigations conducted via TV, which pinpointed widespread corruption by organized crime throughout America. Fritz Lang's THE BIG HEAT, meaning the heat brought down by the police, is one of the best expose films dealing with the national crime cartel, including HOODLUM EMPIRE, Robert Wise's startling CAPTIVE CITY, and Phil Karlson's hard-hitting KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL. Lang's ferocious gangster film is directed with immaculate care, showing not so much violence on film as the reaction to violence, while examining the victims. A terse script by Boehm and sharp photography by Charles Lang in keeping with the theme contribute to this startling film noir. leave a comment

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