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The Big Heat (1953)

8.0
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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 13,157 users  
Reviews: 125 user | 78 critic

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

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(screenplay), (Saturday Evening Post serial)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Alexander Scourby ...
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Peter Whitney ...
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Robert Burton ...
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Howard Wendell ...
Chris Alcaide ...
George Rose
Michael Granger ...
Hugo
Dorothy Green ...
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Storyline

Dave Bannion is an upright but unscrupulous 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

Plot Keywords:

police | gangster | suicide | mob boss | murder | See more »

Taglines:

Somebody's going to pay ...because he forgot to kill me... See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 October 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Big Heat  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The fictional city where the story takes place is named Kenport. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Debby Marsh: [to Bannion] The main thing is to have the money. I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, rich is better.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Ms. 45 (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

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

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Gritty, brutal, intense and powerful – a fantastic pot-boiler than stands out almost half a century later
19 June 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

An honest, family man cop with a wife and daughter is put onto the investigation of another cop's suicide. He closes the case as suicide due to ill health. However when a women tells him another story and is promptly killed, Bannion just investigates further to find that powerful criminals and powerful politicians share the same table at dinner. When his family is split in an attack meant for him he loses his job and becomes bitter – he starts to become more like his enemies as he pursues them.

This is a hardboiled thriller that would still stand up today as a tough film – violence and attitudes that make it feel more modern than it is. The story follows the descent of family man Bannion into violence and bitterness when he not only loses what is important to him, but when he finds that corruption at high levels has fed down into rank and file officers causing him to stand out when he tries to catch a criminal.

The brutality of this film shouldn't be underestimated – Fritz Lang is no softy! Here we have women beaten and killed, we have sex crimes, we have a women disfigured by scalding coffee in her face. Of course all these things are unseen but this was the 50's! However it is still powerful and adds to the intensity of the film. The story may well have been done many times now – but imagine seeing something like this back then!

The cast are great. Ford descends into bitterness really well and seems at ease as both thug and family man. The female cast are good in different ways but the one that catches the eye is a young Lee Marvin. I suspect Marvin got fame because his coffee attack stuck in people's minds – even today he is best know as a tough guy in the movies.

Overall this is well worth hunting out – it is still being copied by many video thrillers and it just goes to show that you don't have to show gory or graphic violence on screen to be powerful, gritty or shocking.


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