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The Big Heat

4.5 out of 5 stars 134 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Ruthless criminals, a dedicated honest cop, sultry women and a gripping plot...all the elements of a classic police action-drama are here in full force. Police Sergeant Bannion (Glenn Ford) is investigating the apparent suicide of a corrupt cop, then is suddenly ordered to stop and THE BIG HEAT is on. Driven to unravel the mystery, Bannion continues probing until an explosion meant for him, killshis wife. He resigns from the force and soon learns that behind it all is the powerful underworld led by Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby) and his cold-blooded henchman, Vince Stone (Lee Marvin). When Stone's girl Debby (Gloria Grahame) makes a play for Bannion, Stone disfigures her face. In revenge,she tells all she knows. Ultimately, Bannion and Stone square off in a life-or-death confrontation.

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando, Alexander Scourby, Lee Marvin
  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Writers: William P. McGivern, Sydney Boehm
  • Format: Multiple Formats, 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:
    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 (134 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005RDRL
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,929 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Big Heat" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Andre Dursin on May 14, 2012
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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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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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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