The Big Combo (1955)

The Big Combo


No Top Critics Tomatometer score yet...


Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Police Lt. Leonard Diamond (Cornel Wilde) is criticized by his superior Capt. Peterson (Robert Middleton) for his obsessive but fruitless investigation of organized crime boss Mr. Brown (Richard Conte). Peterson calls it a waste of the taxpayers' money motivated by Diamond's love for Brown's girlfriend Susan Lowell (Jean Wallace). Watched at all times by henchmen Mingo (Earl Holliman) and Fante (Lee Van Cleef), and masochistically drawn to Brown, Susan is unable to walk away from him. She … More

Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By: ,
Written By: Philip Yordan
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 4, 2005
All Channel Films


as Police Lt. Leonard D...

as Joe McClure

as Mr. Brown

as Susan Lowell

as Sam Hill

as Dreyer

as Audubon

as Bennie Smith, Boxer

as Young Detective

as Lab Technician

as Photo Technician

as Detective

as Fred - Hotel Clerk

as Miss Hartleby
Show More Cast

Friend Ratings

No Friends? Inconceivable! Log in to see what your friends have to say.


Critic Reviews for The Big Combo

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4)

It is done with grim melodramatics that are hard-hitting despite a rambling, not-too-credible plot, and is cut out to order for the meller fan who likes his action rough and raw.

Full Review… | January 25, 2008
Top Critic

Where the usual noir takes place in a nightmare world, this one seems to inhabit a dream: there's no longer fear in the images, but rather a distanced, idealized beauty.

Full Review… | January 25, 2008
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A sputtering, misguided antique.

Full Review… | August 8, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Terrific gangster movie.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Noir wasn't new in 1955, but The Big Combo still found plenty of life within its limits.

Full Review… | October 14, 2013
The Dissolve

A pond of shifting alliances and kinks

Full Review… | October 17, 2009

Audience Reviews for The Big Combo

Cornel Wilde stars as detective in love with society girl and gangster's moll Jean Wallace whose suicide attempt gives him the name "Alicia"; the clue that could be the break he needs to bring the sinister kingpin down. The Big Combo is the kind of Film Noir that feels like it's trying a bit TOO hard to be Film Noir. It has much to admire, mostly from a stylistic standpoint and has some excellent visual moments, but underneath it feels a little stale. The plot is simplistic and rather episodic, it misses the witty, literary dialogue of the best of the genre and Wilde and Richard Conte as his evil nemesis make for rather bland protagonists. What makes the film are some superbly directed scenes of gritty violence that invariably lack these two characterless adversaries; the joy of the film is definitely to be found in the supporting cast. Best of all are the two sexually ambiguous assassins played by a young Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman and Wilde's burlesque queen love interest, someone I wished we'd seen a lot more of. If you're a fan of Noir it's well worth it for the highlights and cinematography but if you're new to the genre, there are much better starting points.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer


The Big Combo left me kind of flustered when it was over for a couple of reasons. First, the story was pretty weak. Cornel Wilde as the worn out and obsessed detective going after the city's kingpin played by the otherwise smug and dull Richard Conte. Throw in a somewhat cute but mostly dopey Jean Wallace for good measure and mix them all together in a script that could've easily been written by Edward D Wood, jr. But at the same time The Big Combo also embodies everything that film noir is from a visual standpoint. It's incredibly atmospheric and beautifully composed courtesy of cinematographer John Alton and brilliantly directed by Joseph Lewis that you just might find yourself forgiving all of it's shortcomings because it looks so damn good. Especially during the execution of... well, you'll see. And that finale is the stuff that dreams are made of. The Big Combo is the femme fatale of film noir movies--it's incredibly beautiful but on the inside it's pretty much rotten otherwise.

Michael Gildea

Super Reviewer

The characters in "The Big Combo" aren't well-drawn or well-acted and there lies one of the film's biggest problems. While the script does have some interesting twists, it's flimsy and thinly written. Richard Conte provides a somewhat memorable performance, but the rest of the characters are instantly forgettable. "The Big Combo" works well when it comes to passing an hour and a half, but there's nothing about it that'll make you want to watch it again.

Stephen Earnest
Stephen Earnest

Super Reviewer

The Big Combo Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Big Combo on our Movie forum!