The Big Heat - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Big Heat Reviews

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November 6, 2013
Dave Bannion is one of the most badass characters in cinema and Vince Stone one of the evil
November 2, 2013
Oh how I love Fritz Lang. I'm a big fan of Film Noir, and he has made some wonderful ones.
And Lang's movies are straight-forward on one level, but subtly different on another level if you want to take the time to think about it.

In The Big Heat, Glenn Ford plays a good cop with a bad habit of getting the women around him killed, all in the name of protecting Lady Justice. I have a soft spot for Ford anyway because he reminds me of my grandfather. And he is excellent in this, especially paired with hot mess Gloria Grahame and supported by Lee Marvin in a memorable role as villain.

The Big Heat is not available to stream on any of the subscription services, but Netflix does have it on disc.
October 11, 2013
Shockingly modern in both character portrayal and brutality, Lang's noir is quite ahead of its time.
September 22, 2013
Still filling in my Film Noir blindspots and I'm happy to say that this Fritz Lang classic lived up to the hype. I honestly don't know if I've seen Glenn Ford in anything that I've been aware of up to this point, but this was quite the introduction, let me tellya.

Watching him pushed into a corner and waiting to explode was simply wonderful, and I can definitely see revisiting this one soon.

Recommended.
September 20, 2013
Fritz Lang explores the old, popular Doppelgänger theme. Especially recommended for Lee Marvin's fans.
September 15, 2013
Up there with Double Indemnity and Chinatown in my list of best noirs.
August 13, 2013
Entertaining noir held together by a punchy script and assured direction from Lang. An early outing from the irrepressible Lee Marvin as one of the villains, but there is no doubting that Ford is the star of the piece in the prize role of Bannion; a cop who absolutely refuses to bend to the will of corruption.
July 12, 2013
The box quote is not spoken even once.

Make some sense of that, pals.
June 24, 2013
This is, at least on its surface, a fairly standard film noir with a few standout elements. It doesn't make as strong an impression as the greatest classics of the genre - The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity, etc. - but it's still a strong film. On the special features on the film's DVD, Martin Scorsese and Michael Mann make compelling arguments for its greatness. Roger Ebert's Great Movies review of it also advances an interesting, subversive reading of the film, but you should only read Ebert's piece after you've seen the movie.

The movie opens with a policeman committing suicide under suspicious circumstances. Another detective, Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford) begins a long, costly investigation into police corruption, which ends up having unforeseen, brutal consequences. Also involved are a rough gangster (Lee Marvin), the gangster's girlfriend (Gloria Grahame), and Bannion's wife (Jocelyn Brando, Marlon's sister).

I can't really discuss the movie too much without spoiling things, but suffice it to say the movie packs in several surprising, violent twists. There are two moments in particular, one involving a pot of boiling coffee, that make the movie possibly one of the grimmest and most violent noirs from the 1950s. The overall structure of the movie plays out in a fairly straightforward, predictable fashion, but the events along the way definitely do shock and surprise.

Glenn Ford is fine as Bannion, though he just doesn't have the presence of a Humphrey Bogart. More interesting is Gloria Grahame's excellent performance as the gangster's girlfriend, who gets a lot more to do in the movie than you think she will at first. She's the real standout character in the movie. Lee Marvin is also quite good as the villainous gangster, but then Marvin was always a great villain. It seems odd that the movie was directed by Fritz Lang, the creator of the German Expressionist classics Metropolis and M, because it's possibly the most stylistically plain and uninflected film noir I've ever seen. It just looks like a standard black-and-white movie, with little overtly arty camerawork. Maybe that was part of the point, to make a barebones, stripped-down movie, but the shadowy lighting of most noir has always been part of the genre's appeal to me. So, overall, it's a little dryer than most noirs, but still worthwhile.
½ May 15, 2013
A noir noir. Dark, that is. Dirty cops. Corrupt politicians. Tough women. Death and violence and innocent victims. And a one man trying to see justice done whatever the cost.
Super Reviewer
February 18, 2013
A great hard-boiled mystery. Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin, and Gloria Grahame all deliver their punchy dialogue perfectly. Its a little sad to see a Fritz Lang film that's devoid of his earlier expressionist style, but he still serves this brutal material very well.
February 14, 2013
Quite intense for a 50s movie. The fact that the boiling water was used to the effect it was made this movie.
February 6, 2013
The very best of hard boiled film noir.
Super Reviewer
½ January 30, 2013
One of the better examples of the noir genre. There are nice unexpected twists and turns that add to the drama and lead to a dramatic fulfilling conclusion.
½ January 28, 2013
i just dont really get the excitement for this movie,,,,
January 3, 2013
It's pretty great stuff and looks amazing on Blu-ray.
December 15, 2012
A film about the duality of human nature.
December 6, 2012
All stars should be given for it's stylized direction!
½ November 7, 2012
The Big Heat is one of these classic noir films which has all the clichés and signature moments you want to see in a noir.
And although I'm a bit disappointed how little of his own style Lang managed to conserve in this genre The Big Heat has a decent plot, a great script (much better than most of the genre's other output) and a likable cast.

Back in the days when women are little glitzy accessories and smoking was mandatory, The Big Heat has exploding cars, even two femme fatales, brawls, shoot-outs and a lot of whiskey. It has also one of the most hilariously badly acted scenes ever when Bannion's daughter starts crying (really bad) and runs away laughing the next minute. Bannion's wife is hot though (even for today's standards - and she knows how to cook a good steak).

I can't really add any substantial details or remarks. The Big Heat is just a well-crafted genre piece with all the flaws you expect. Only the above-average script and the name of its acclaimed director elevates it to its status - that it's remembered in contrary to the hundreds of similar movies we forgot.
October 25, 2012
"The Big Heat" is the reason why we love film noir. Shoot-outs, fist fights, femme fatales, brutal thugs, revenge, and a crooked cop blend together beautifully and build quite an atmosphere-- but there's something special about the film that sets it apart from your average '50's thriller. It's consistently brutal-- especially the scene where Lee Marvin throws scalding coffee in Gloria Grahame's face-- and its honesty makes the plot feel more authentic. It's a simple tale-- a good cop, Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford) is solving the supposed suicide of a colleague. He has a beautiful wife (Jocelyn Brando), a loving daughter, and faithful friends. His world is turned upside-down however, when a murderer, who appears to be violent thug Vince Stone (Lee Marvin), begins to kill people connected to major crime boss Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby)-- one of them being Bannion's wife. Leaving behind the laws, he decides to go after the people responsible death: with Stone's moll (Gloria Grahame) is tow, who also wants a bit of revenge. "The Big Heat" is one of the few film noirs that aged the best. It have to get around censors to make its message lessen, but the story itself is so cruel and violent that even when a horrific event takes place of screen it makes you cringe. Fritz Lang, who is masterful at make dark thrillers like this one, skips around every cliche, and seems to make sure not one minute of the film is predictable. I was shocked constantly at how evil some of the characters are (the protagonist even battles some serious demons), but that only makes the film better. Everything about "The Big Heat" is hard-boiled. It doesn't stay in the box, but it doesn't necessarily out. Film noir doesn't get any better than this. Recommended.
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