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The Big Heat

The Big Heat (1953)

tomatometer

100

Average Rating: 8.4/10
Critic Reviews: 6
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 0

No consensus yet.

audience

88

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 5,528

My Rating

Movie Info

Fritz Lang directed this gritty drama of gangland murder and police corruption, which was considered quite violent in its day. Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford) is a scrupulously honest police detective who learns that one of his fellow officers has committed suicide. Bannion is told by the officer's wife, Bertha (Jeanette Nolan), that he was severely depressed after being told he was diagnosed with a terminal illness. But the cop's mistress, a barmaid named Lucy (Dorothy Green), has another tale to

PG,

Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics

Sydney Boehm, William P. McGivern

Dec 18, 2001

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All Critics (26) | Top Critics (6) | Fresh (26) | Rotten (0) | DVD (11)

Ford's portrayal of the homicide sergeant is honest and packs much wallop. Lang's direction builds taut suspense, throwing unexpected, and believable, thrills at the audience.

April 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brutal, atmospheric, and exciting -- highly recommended.

April 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Lang strips down William P McGivern's novel to essentials, giving the story a narrative drive as efficient and powerful as a handgun.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

That's the beauty of Lang's moral ambidexterity. He tells the story of a heroic cop, while using it to mask another story, so much darker, beneath.

January 20, 2006 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Mr. Lang can direct a film. He has put his mind to it, in this instance, and he has brought forth a hot one with a sting.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

In many ways, Fritz Lang's The Big Heat, scripted by former crime reporter Sydney Boehm, laid the groundwork not only for "Dirty Harry," but for the whole sub-genre of 'rogue cop' films that began to surface during the Vietnam era.

July 20, 2002 Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic IconTop Critic

For those who take their film black...Moral rot gets full play in Lang's 1953 police drama. [Blu-ray]

May 22, 2012 Full Review Source: Groucho Reviews
Groucho Reviews

Fritz Lang, once the master of grand expressionist scenes, directs with a stripped down style and a lean narrative drive...

December 5, 2009 Full Review Source: Seanax.com
Seanax.com

Everything about "The Big Heat" is "hard boiled."

July 25, 2009 Full Review Source: ColeSmithey.com
ColeSmithey.com

A scalding face-full of harsh reality, courtesy Fritz Lang.

April 9, 2008 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Lang presents one of the great works of film noir. The acting is first rate, Boehm's script tough and efficient, and the whole affair is photographed with the appropriate expressionist, chiaroscuro lighting.

April 9, 2008 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

One of Lang's most accomplished and influential noir crimers, with a top-notch turn from Glenn Ford as the avenging cop-angel, a role that Clint Eastwood (Dirty Harry) and Charles Bronson (Death Wish) would develop in their 1970s revenge thrillers.

April 8, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Lang at his cruelest.

July 22, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Overwhelming crime thriller, with plenty to say and brilliant storytelling

August 13, 2005 Full Review Source: Classic Film and Television
Classic Film and Television

In-your-face tough cop-gangster noir yarn features gritty Glenn Ford and great Gloria Grahame.

May 28, 2005

Strong noir thriller from the great Lang in his later years.

November 24, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

One of Fritz Lang's very best films.

October 1, 2003 Full Review Source: Austin Chronicle
Austin Chronicle

May be Lang's greatest American film.

March 24, 2003
San Francisco Examiner

Relentlessly depressing and cynical, and although it was well-made, its cruelty made it an uncomfortable experience.

February 28, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

Perfectly suited to film noir fans who like their stories dark, their characters dark, and their heroes decent but morally tested.

January 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Audience Reviews for The Big Heat

Film Noir that's for sure, they just don't make them like this anymore. Glenn Ford plays a detective who is working a case where city officials and the mob are involved, He's putting the heat on the mob trying to solve the apparent suicide of another police officer, and the mob is putting the heat on his family. Enjoyable scene's at home wife cooking dinner having a few cocktails. Beer at a bar cost 35 cents, a real phone booth that cost a dime had a door on the booth so no one could hear your conversation unlike today with cell phones. Overall an outstanding Black and White Film, Marlen Brando's sister played in this movie and she was pretty hot back in the day Jocelyn Brando. And Gloria Grahame played a gangsters girl and she was also hot, don't see women like this on the big screen today. No Class no Talent welcome to 2011. The movie is 4 1/2 stars all the way.
June 15, 2011
bbcfloridabound
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

Another good thriller from Fritz Lang, I liked it.
November 7, 2010
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

Not at all bad if you wanna kill some 90 hot minutes. However, if you 're looking for an unpredictable thriller, this one isn't gonna satisfy you.
March 31, 2010
imrealgod

Super Reviewer

"We're sisters under the mink."
March 2, 2010
smith44

Super Reviewer

    1. Debby Marsh: We're sisters under the same mink.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (1)

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Foreign Titles

  • The Big Heat (1953) (DE)
  • The Big Heat (UK)
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