Police Sergeant Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford) is assigned to investigate the apparent suicide of a corrupt cop, setting him on a collision course with an underworld kingpin, a cold-blooded henchman (Lee Marvin), and a gangster’s moll (Gloria Grahame) in this classic noir by Fritz Lang.
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Fabulous, dirty, double-crossing noir. Two plot points are so shocking and unexpected that, unusually for a noir, the viewer becomes emotionally invested in the characters, and the story really kicks in for modern audiences. Gloria Grahame steals the show as the classic moll done wrong - very, very wrong.
My first Lang is arguably the greatest meditation on the destructive consequences of revenge that I've come across. Gloria Grahame is fantastic and Lee Marvin is shockingly evil, especially given when this was made. One of the best and darkest noirs I've ever seen.
First time I've been disappointed by Lang, in what is a run of the mill revenge thriller that is only distinguished in its more-than-usual nihilistic tone. It's surely his most violent film but this tone feels rather half-baked since he was still restrained by the Hays Code and thus it doesn't fully embrace its concept of a more realistic noir. Nonetheless, a disappointing Lang is still a worthwhile Lang.
As fueled by rage as Lang's own "Fury," The Big Heat plays like a revenge Western. In a world dominated by corruption, cowardice and ostentatious wealth, only the hero is righteous, brave and blue-collar enough to serve as its moral center. Lang's workmanlike approach fits the film's tone - allergic to fussiness - perfectly, relying on mastershots with subtle push-ins to follow the emotional flow of scenes.
Glenn Ford plays the only cop with guts in a city filtered by corruption.
Concise direction, topnotch acting and a ceaseless, brutal and intense plot make an splendorous noir, full of drama and tension.