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The Big Heat (1953)

Glenn Ford , Gloria Grahame , Fritz Lang  |  NR |  DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando, Alexander Scourby, Lee Marvin
  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Writers: William P. McGivern, Sydney Boehm
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: Chinese, English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Korean, Thai
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: December 18, 2001
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RDRL
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,856 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Big Heat" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin. The apparent suicide of a corrupt officer causes a determined cop to go after the men behind a big-city crime ring. 1953/b&w/90 min/NR/fullscreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
54 of 60 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Most Powerful Crime Movie Ever Made July 30, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
In spite of the low profile it got at its initial release in the 50's, in spite of the modest budget and production value, THE BIG HEAT, with his already highly acclaimed M, is Fritz Lang's greatest film, and one of the highest achievement of cinema. The stunning opening sequence, depicting a police officer's suicide and its aftermath, is a great example of efficiency cinematic narrative, so are the 85 minutes that follow. Lang fills this film with powerful shots and speedy editing, never afraid to show heightened violence when the story needs to. Many heated action sequences are handled with impressive masterly. Unlike in the movies in which Lang used famous Hollywood star (and the majority of them could not cope with the severeness of his direction), Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame show powerful, convincing performances fused with emotion. Also featured are Lee Marvin and Janet Nolan, as the "bad guys" and are equally great. But what makes THE BIG HEAT such a great film is the fact that it is a profoundly humanist and moral film. As many of Lang's American films does, THE BIG HEAT depicts the corruption of the modern society. In fact, he never been as good as this in showing the system of how our society functions: a newspaper headline, or even a telephone call may be more powerful than guns and bullets, punches and tortures. The sophisticated syndicate functions not with violence, but with the information of violence. At the same time, Lang chose the protagonist of the film to be a truly good human being, not a perfect super hero, but a cop who is convinced to do an honest job, and ready to fight for this cause in spite of all the corruptions that surround him. Read more ›
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
Format:Blu-ray
Exciting, violent and downright wild for its time, Fritz Lang's THE BIG HEAT kicks off Twilight Time's releases for the month of May, and for film noir fans, this crackerjack thriller never ceases to disappoint.

Glenn Ford plays the dogged (and, at times, almost too determined) cop who, upon investigating the apparent suicide of a fellow police officer, finds out that corruption exists at nearly every level in his county, all of it stemming from a local crime boss named Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby) calling the shots. Lagana's web extends down to Ford's own bosses, hindering an investigation that takes the family man down a dark path at a personal cost to his own wife (Jocelyn Brando) and the women who aid him in his pursuit of justice, including Gloria Grahame in a fine performance as one of the gangster's molls.

"The Big Heat" is sensationally entertaining for its genre, and also extremely, notably nasty to virtually all of the film's female leads. The ladies in Sydney Boehm's screenplay are burned, scarred, murdered and blown up - a litany of body bags that accentuates the horror of the film's villain, who also uses a henchman played by a young Lee Marvin to carry out the unpleasantness. Ford's alternately earnest and tough delivery makes his detective sympathetic to a degree, though his almost fanatical desire to see justice carried out ends up making his misery something of his own personal doing.

Lang's visuals - in particular his trademark use of shadows - bring the punchy material to life in a film that deservedly ranks among the best of its genre, and it's certainly one of the more memorably violent pictures of the `50s as well.

Twilight Time's Blu-Ray boasts a crisp 1080p AVC encoded transfer layered with fine grain and detail.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Corruption and Its Cure Leave a Bloody Trail. March 18, 2005
Format:DVD
"The Big Heat" is a good-cop-vs-city-corruption story based on a serial by William P. McGivern that ran in the "Saturday Evening Post". Police Sergeant David Bannion (Glenn Ford) becomes suspicious while investigating the suicide of a police officer when the dead man's girlfriend is murdered shortly after she speaks to him. But Bannion is ordered to lay off the dead cop's sinister widow, Bertha Duncan (Jeanette Nolan), and to leave the murder case to another jurisdiction. He pursues the case anyway, confronting a prominent businessman named Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby) who built his fortune on crime and to whom all roads of corruption in this town lead. Lagana's violent reprisal further provokes Bannion into an obsessive campaign to bring down the entire corrupt network of criminals, politicians, and complicitous cops.

Glenn Ford and director Fritz Lang give us a complicated picture of David Bannion, a man who is kind and devoted to his family, but whose obsessive pursuit of justice leaves a trail of death and destruction. The crusading cop who risks his life to combat the violence and corruption that permeate his town is, at the same time, generally unconcerned with the human cost of his pique. Bannion's single-mindedness is understandable considering his circumstances, but this good guy with admirable ambitions has the flaws of a self-righteous crusader. And that's a lot more interesting than a man who's all good.

Gloria Grahame gives a memorable performance as Debby Marsh, the girlfriend of one of Lagana's goons. She is the antithesis of the smart, literate Laurel Gray, whom Grahame portrayed in "In a Lonely Place". Debby is an unsophisticated-but-savvy, happy-go-lucky woman who tries to enjoy life in spite of depending on sadistic gangsters for her livelihood.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars LOVE GLORIA GRAHAME!!!!
LOVE THIS MOVIE! SAW IT ON TCM YEARS AGO AND I HAD TO HAVE IT. I LIKE THE STORYLINE AND OF COURSE THE ACTING.....CLASSIC FILM NOIR.....REALLY GOOD!!!
Published 3 months ago by Shoegal3
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Moving, Thanks to Skilled Acting and Direction
THE BIG HEAT, (1953). German auteur Fritz Lang directs this gritty, violent crime drama, set in an unidentified big American city that follows Dave Bannion. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Stephanie De Pue
2.0 out of 5 stars violence
Although I really like Glenn Ford and Gloria Graham, this film has too much violence against women and by halfway through it, I'd had enough. Read more
Published 4 months ago by raven maven
4.0 out of 5 stars Thumbs up
Glenn Ford is really good in this movie. Action and suspense through out. Good buy. Good for your personal collection.
Published 5 months ago by Majormike
5.0 out of 5 stars The big heat
One of film noir classics. Great story and actors make this a movie you shouldn't miss. Don't pass it up!
Published 7 months ago by Paxjuno
5.0 out of 5 stars real action!
Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame really stand out in this "film noir"!!!

Look for a young Lee Marvin as a creepy thug.
Published 7 months ago by royal candace
4.0 out of 5 stars Love Film Noir
I am a fan of the old Film Noir movies.
I had seen this one before and wanted to add it to my collection.
Published 12 months ago by B. A. Kelly
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Noir gets great Blu-Ray treatment
The Big Heat has the reputation of being one of the best film noir films ever made. I can attest that it certainly is a terrific film that I greatly enjoyed & compares favorably... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Usuallee
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Not Great
While this is a good film with a good cast by a great director including an iconic moment, this is hardly the greatest crime drama ever made, or a five-star film. Read more
Published 13 months ago by Elyon
5.0 out of 5 stars Gift
This was a gift, so I personally did not watch it, however the gentleman that I bought it for love it
Published 14 months ago by Rhonda Y. Thomas
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