The Big Heat (1953) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Big Heat (1953)

The Big Heat (1953)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

The Big Heat Photos

Movie Info

One of the great film noirs, this unrelentingly brutal crime drama centers on a street-toughened detective's quest for vengeance after his wife is accidentally killed by the gangsters who have been assigned to murder him. Working outside the law's confines, the detective's obsessive search for the culprits leads him into the labyrinthine bowels of mob-corrupted city politics. Much of the plot is based on the U.S. Senate investigations of 1950 that exposed the influence of organized crime upon American politics.

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Glenn Ford
as Det. Sgt. Dave Bannion
Gloria Grahame
as Debby Marsh
Jocelyn Brando
as Katie Bannion
Alexander Scourby
as Mike Lagana
Lee Marvin
as Vince Stone
Jeanette Nolan
as Bertha Duncan
Robert Burton
as Gus Burke
Adam Williams
as Larry Gordon
Howard Wendell
as Commissioner Higgins
Chris Alcaide
as George Rose
Dorothy Green
as Lucy Chapman
Ric Roman
as Baldy
Edith Evanson
as Selma Parker
Joseph Mell
as Dr. Kane
Sidney Clute
as Bartender
Ezelle Poule
as Mrs. Tucker
Byron Kane
as Dr. Jones
Lyle Latell
as Moving Man
Paul Maxey
as Fuller
Charles Cane
as Hopkins
Al Eben
as Harry Shoenstein
Harry Lauter
as Hank O'Connell
Phil Chambers
as Hettrick
Robert Forrest
as Bill Rutherford
John Close
as Policeman
John Doucette
as Mark Reiner
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News & Interviews for The Big Heat

Critic Reviews for The Big Heat

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (6)

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…
Top Critic

Brutal, atmospheric, and exciting -- highly recommended.

April 9, 2008 | Full Review…
Chicago Reader
Top 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…
Time Out
Top 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 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
Chicago Sun-Times
Top 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 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
New York Times
Top 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 | Rating: 4/4
Chicago Tribune
Top Critic

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.

Bruce Bruce
Bruce Bruce

Super Reviewer

Another good thriller from Fritz Lang, I liked it.

Aj V
Aj V

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.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

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