The Big Heat 1953

The Big Heat

Critics Consensus

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 31

90%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 5,964

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Movie Info

A police officer seems to have committed suicide, but Detective Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford) thinks there's more to the story. After talking to the man's mob-connected mistress, Bannion discovers far-reaching corruption that leads all the way from the police station to kingpin Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby). But when the policeman's lover is killed, it becomes clear that crossing Lagana is a dangerous thing to do. Soon Bannion finds himself marked for death and his family in mortal danger.

Cast & Crew

Glenn Ford
Det. Sgt. Dave Bannion
Jocelyn Brando
Katie Bannion
Lee Marvin
Vince Stone
Jeanette Nolan
Bertha Duncan
Willis Bouchey
Lt. Ted Wilks
Robert Burton
Det. Gus Burke
Adam Williams
Larry Gordon
Arthur Morton
Original Music
Charles Lang
Cinematographer
Robert Peterson
Art Direction
William Kiernan
Set Decoration
Jean Louis
Costume Designer
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News & Interviews for The Big Heat

Critic Reviews for The Big Heat

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (7) | Fresh (31)

  • The film is drum-tight, directed with muscular clarity and force.

    November 24, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • 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…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • Brutal, atmospheric, and exciting -- highly recommended.

    April 9, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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…

    Wally Hammond

    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…
  • 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…

Audience Reviews for The Big Heat

  • Jul 15, 2018
    A deeply satisfying noir, with a gritty cop (Glenn Ford), femme fatale (Gloria Grahame), and powerful crime bosses (Lee Marvin and Alexander Scourby). I love how hardboiled this one is, with Ford becoming suspicious after some discrepancies in a fellow cop's suicide, and a woman getting viciously murdered. He's soon fighting upstream against a wave of corruption, and then getting threatened himself, but I won't say more about the plot. All of the performances are terrific. Ford is a sweet and decent guy with his family, brave and unflinching in confronting evil, and tough when he needs to be - tiptoeing along the line of being too tough in some cases, the moral ambiguity of which is interesting. Grahame is just delightful, particularly in the scene where she shimmies about during cocktail hour. Of the villains, Lee Marvin plays a sadist very well, and is explosive in every scene he's in. Director Fritz Lang harnesses it all well, including the strong script based on William P. McGivern's novel, and the pace is perfect. I loved how the film was clear enough to follow, but at the same time, had quite a bit of depth to it. Great stuff, and clearly influential.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Feb 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.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Jan 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.
    John B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 15, 2011
    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 B Super Reviewer

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