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The Big Heat (1953)

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Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate.



(screenplay), (Saturday Evening Post serial)
2 wins. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Whitney ...
Howard Wendell ...
George Rose
Michael Granger ...
Dorothy Green ...


Dave Bannion is an upright cop on the trail of a vicious gang he suspects holds power over the police force. Bannion is tipped off after a colleague's suicide and his fellow officers' suspicious silence lead him to believe that they are on the gangsters' payroll. When a bomb meant for him kills his wife instead, Bannion becomes a furious force of vengeance and justice, aided along the way by the gangster's spurned girlfriend Debbie. As Bannion and Debbie fall further and further into the Gangland's insidious and brutal trap, they must use any means necessary (including murder) to get to the truth. Written by alfiehitchie

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


A hard cop and a soft dame! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

7 December 1953 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Heißes Eisen  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Columbia paid $40,000 for the short story. See more »


Near the end of the film, Dave Bannion has an altercation with his brother-in-law's old army buddy in the stairwell. When he enters the apartment a second later, the sleeves of his suit are suddenly rolled up. See more »


Vince Stone: Hey, that's nice perfume!
Debby Marsh: Something new. It attracts mosquitoes and repels men.
Vince Stone: It doesn't work that way with me.
Debby Marsh: It's not supposed to.
[She gives him a teasing kiss]
See more »


Featured in The Rules of Film Noir (2009) See more »


Put the Blame on Mame
by Doris Fisher and Allan Roberts
Heard instrumentally during one of the scenes at The Retreat
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Taut, gripping, vintage cop thriller
22 June 2004 | by (Tasmania) – See all my reviews

It's doubtful that even Dirty Harry in his most menacing moments could match the smouldering rage that Glenn Ford brings to the screen in this excellent 1953 Fritz Lang flick. From a modern POV there is nothing unfamiliar here, except maybe the dated hardboiled lingo. The maverick cop, the revenge theme, the underworld characters and heroines. It's just that whereas a modern director would make this into a predictable two hour yawn-fest with slow-motion car accidents and ten minute shootouts with shoulder-launched missiles, Lang's movie clocks in at under 90 minutes, and there isn't an ounce of fat on it. It's lean, fast-moving and engrossing. Not a single camera shot is wasted or unnecessary. The script crackles, the cast is uniformly excellent, and Ford and Lee Marvin in particular are unforgettably intense. Ford, just when he's about to go way over the top, reins himself in, adding to the aura of barely suppressed violence in his character.

The movie can also lurch from plot exposition to sudden, economical and unexpected explosions of violence which can still shock today and must have been extremely confronting fifty years ago. And from there it can become suddenly, unexpectedly sensitive and moving.

Nothing is wasted in this movie. Everything is nailed down just right. It's not that they don't make them like this any more; it's more that they've been making them like this ever since, and generally to lesser and lesser effect.

A strong 8 out of 10.

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