The Big Heat (1953)

Not Rated  |   |  Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller  |  14 October 1953 (USA)
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Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate.



(screenplay), (Saturday Evening Post serial)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alexander Scourby ...
Peter Whitney ...
Robert Burton ...
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:

14 October 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Heißes Eisen  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Upon initial release Modern Screen magazine described this as a 'Family Film', an obvious error. See more »


When Bannion (Glenn Ford) fights with Larry Gordon (Adam Williams) in Gordon's hotel room, Gordon's revolver is first seen in the centre of the desk, behind Gordon. When Bannion picks-up the revolver, it is near the right-hand edge of the desk. This move is probably intentional - to allow Bannion to get the revolver without reaching behind Gordon. See more »


Dave Bannion: It doesn't matter to you that Slim might have been mixed up in a murder?
Mr. Atkins: Sure it matters, but what can I do about it? I don't know anything.
Dave Bannion: You're a liar.
Mr. Atkins: You can't insult me, mister. I said I don't know anything about it, and that's how it stands.
Dave Bannion: You know, I've been meetin' your kind every day for ten years... scared rabbits that never see anything. You wouldn't stick out your big, fat neck for anybody, would you?
Mr. Atkins: That's the truth, but it's my big, fat neck. So now, if you're through talkin'...
See more »


Referenced in The Punisher (1989) 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

Corruption in higher places
12 January 2006 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

Fritz Lang, a man who knew the business like no other, is seen at the top of his craft with this interesting film noir that pays off in unexpected ways. Mr. Lang was a man that believed in total control and who wanted to get the best out of everyone in all his films. "The Big Heat" is one of those rare films in which all the elements come together with surprising results.

Corruption in higher places is the basis of the story. A good police detective who cares enough to keep on probing into the suicide of one of his comrades, is what brings Dave Bannion, not only to the attention of the higher ups in the police department, but to Lagano and the mobsters that work for this evil man. Tragedy finds a way into Dave's home that makes him even more resolved into seeking justice and unmasking the mobsters found along the way that have a grip on the police department.

The casting of "The High Heat" is what makes this film different from the rest of the films of the genre. Glenn Ford made an excellent appearance in the film. He gives one of the best performances of his career. But of course, the film belongs to Gloria Grahame, the bad girl in most of the films of this genre. What a joy it's to watch her! Her Debby Marsh is one of the best roles she portrayed for the movies. Surprisingly, Ms. Grahame and Mr. Ford show a lot of chemistry in their scenes together.

The others in the film do good work under Mr. Lang's direction. A young Lee Marvin is perfectly creepy as Vince Stone, a man who gets what's coming to him at the end in a memorable sequence playing against Ms. Grahame. Jeannette Nolan makes a valuable contribution as the bad widow of the man that commits suicide. Alexander Scourby, as Lagana has some good moments. Joselyn Brando plays Dave's wife. Also, in a small part we see Carolyn Jones.

"The Big Heat" demonstrates why Fritz Lang was one of the best influences in the American cinema.

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