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The Big Heat
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The Big Heat (1953) More at IMDbPro »

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The Big Heat -- A melodrama of dice, vice and corruption. Glenn Ford stars as a rogue homicide cop who takes the law into his own hands when he sets out to smash a vicious crime syndicate and in the process finds who planted the car bomb that killed his wife.
The Big Heat -- Trailer for this crime drama directed by Fritz Lang


User Rating:
8.0/10   15,489 votes »
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Up 16% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Sydney Boehm (screenplay)
William P. McGivern (Saturday Evening Post serial)
View company contact information for The Big Heat on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
14 October 1953 (USA) See more »
A hard cop and a soft dame! See more »
Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
2 wins See more »
(74 articles)
User Reviews:
Gritty, brutal, intense and powerful – a fantastic pot-boiler than stands out almost half a century later See more (132 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Glenn Ford ... Det. Sgt. 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 ... Det. Gus Burke

Adam Williams ... Larry Gordon
Howard Wendell ... Police 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
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Phil Arnold ... Retreat Waiter (uncredited)
Linda Bennett ... Joyce Bannion (uncredited)
Charles Cane ... Police Guard Outside Lagana Home (uncredited)

Phil Chambers ... Hettrick (uncredited)
John Close ... Policeman (uncredited)
Sidney Clute ... Retreat Bartender (uncredited)
John Crawford ... Al - Bannion's Brother-in-Law (uncredited)

John Doucette ... Mark Reiner (uncredited)
Kathryn Eames ... Marge - Bannion's Sister-in-Law (uncredited)
Al Eben ... Harry Shoenstein (uncredited)
Douglas Evans ... Councilman Gillen (uncredited)
Fritz Ford ... Sailor (uncredited)
Jimmy Gray ... Man (uncredited)
Michael Jeffers ... Retreat Patron (uncredited)
Byron Kane ... Police Surgeon (uncredited)
Donald Kerr ... Cabby (uncredited)
Lyle Latell ... Moving Man (uncredited)
Harry Lauter ... Hank O'Connell (uncredited)
Nico Lek ... Canteen Patron (uncredited)

Celia Lovsky ... Lagana's Mother in Portrait (uncredited)
Herbert Lytton ... Martin (uncredited)
Mike Mahoney ... Dixon (uncredited)
Laura Mason ... B-Girl (uncredited)
Paul Maxey ... George Fuller (uncredited)
Joseph Mell ... Medical Examiner (uncredited)
John Merton ... Man (uncredited)
Patrick Miller ... Intern (uncredited)
William Murphy ... Reds (uncredited)
Ezelle Poule ... Mrs Tucker (uncredited)
Norma Randall ... Jill (uncredited)
Michael Ross ... Segal (uncredited)
Ted Stanhope ... Lagana's Butler (uncredited)
Robert Stevenson ... Bill Rutherford (uncredited)
William Vedder ... Janitor (uncredited)

Directed by
Fritz Lang 
Writing credits
Sydney Boehm (screenplay)

William P. McGivern (Saturday Evening Post serial)

Produced by
Robert Arthur .... producer
Original Music by
Henry Vars (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Charles Lang (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Charles Nelson 
Art Direction by
Robert Peterson 
Set Decoration by
William Kiernan 
Costume Design by
Jean Louis (gowns)
Makeup Department
Clay Campbell .... makeup artist
Helen Hunt .... hair styles
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Milton Feldman .... assistant director
Sound Department
George Cooper .... sound engineer
Music Department
Mischa Bakaleinikoff .... musical director
Daniele Amfitheatrof .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
George Duning .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Fred Karger .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Arthur Morton .... composer: title music (uncredited)
Hans J. Salter .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Ernst Toch .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
90 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Argentina:ATP | Australia:PG | Canada:G (Nova Scotia/Québec) | Finland:K-16 (1966) | Finland:(Banned) (1953) | Germany:BPjM Restricted | Germany:16 (nf) (re-rating) | Netherlands:18 (original rating) (1954) | Norway:16 | Portugal:M/12 | South Korea:15 | Spain:13 | Sweden:15 | UK:X (original rating) | UK:15 (tv rating) | UK:15 (video rating) (1988) (1991) (2006) | USA:Not Rated (DVD rating) | USA:Approved (PCA #16549) | USA:TV-14 (TV rating) | West Germany:18 (nf) (original rating)

Did You Know?

Executive Producer Jerry Wald hoped to cast either Paul Muni, George Raft or Edward G. Robinson in the lead role.See more »
Continuity: When Sgt Bannion first meets Lucy Champam in 'The Retreat' bar the waiter pours Bannion a glass of beer with a head at least 2 inches thick. Bannion is then seen to sip from the glass and the beer has virtually no head at all.See more »
Dave Bannion:[about Lucy Chapman] Where'd she live?
Tierney:If I ask for an address, they lie. It's not worth the bother. They're floaters. Not much more than a suitcase full of nothin' between them and the gutter.
Dave Bannion:Hey, you know somethin'? You ought to be doin' radio commercials - how to talk a lot and say nothin'.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Godfather (1972)See more »
Put the Blame on MameSee more »


New York Opening Happened When?
Chicago Opening Happened When and Where?
See more »
16 out of 19 people found the following review useful.
Gritty, brutal, intense and powerful – a fantastic pot-boiler than stands out almost half a century later, 19 June 2003
Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom

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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See more (132 total) »

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