Film Review – THE BIG HEAT (1953)

THE BIG HEAT (1953, USA, 89m, 15) ****
Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller
dist. Columbia Pictures; pr co. Columbia Pictures; d. Fritz Lang; w. Sydney Boehm (based on the Saturday Evening Post serial by William P. McGivern); pr. Robert Arthur; ph. Charles Lang (B&W | 1.37:1); m. Henry Vars; ed. Charles Nelson; ad. Robert Peterson.
cast: Glenn Ford (Dave Bannion), Gloria Grahame (Debby Marsh), Jocelyn Brando (Katie Bannion), Alexander Scourby (Mike Lagana), Lee Marvin (Vince Stone), Jeanette Nolan (Bertha Duncan), Peter Whitney (Tierney), Willis Bouchey (Lt. Ted Wilks), Robert Burton (Gus Burke), Adam Williams (Larry Gordon), Howard Wendell (Commissioner Higgins), Chris Alcaide (George Rose), Michael Granger (Hugo), Dorothy Green (Lucy Chapman), Carolyn Jones (Doris), Ric Roman (Baldy), Dan Seymour (Mr. Atkins), Edith Evanson (Selma Parker).
Tough and uncompromising film noir sees Ford as tough cop Dave Bannion with a personal score to settle take on a politically powerful crime syndicate. Lang handles the material unobtrusively, focusing on the actors and allowing them to deliver top-notch performances. Ford’s transition into a bitter single-minded cop seeking revenge is stark. Grahame brings personality and wit to her role as sadistic and corrupt politician Marvin’s mistress. Lang’s no-frills approach allows the story to breathe, and Vars’ musical score is subtly effective.