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The Big Combo (1955)

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A police lt. is ordered to stop investigating deadly crime boss Mr. Brown, because he hasn't been able to get any hard evidence against him. He then goes after Brown's girlfriend who despises him, for information instead.


(as Joseph Lewis)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Police Lt. Leonard Diamond
Joe McClure
Susan Lowell
Robert Middleton ...
Police Capt. Peterson
Alicia Brown
Jay Adler ...
Detective Sam Hill
Nils Dreyer
Ralph Bettini
Helene Stanton ...
Roy Gordon ...
Doctor (scenes deleted) (as Whit Bissel)
Steve Mitchell ...
Bennie Smith - Boxer


Police Lt. Diamond is told to close his surveillance of suspected mob boss Mr. Brown because it's costing the department too much money with no results. Diamond makes one last attempt to uncover evidence against Brown by going to Brown's girlfriend, Susan Lowell. Written by Norman L Cook <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Most Startling Story The Screen Has Ever Dared Reveal!


See all certifications »





Release Date:

13 February 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Association criminelle  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This film skirted the Production Code by making several not-too-subtle hints that Mr. Brown's henchmen, Fante and Mingo (played by Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman), were a homosexual couple. See more »


When John Hoyt as Dreyer reaches into his desk for a gun, the contents of the desk on the insert close-up do not match the contents on the master shot. See more »


Joe McClure: He pulled a gun on me. What did you want me to do?
Mr. Brown: With your kind of brain, there's nothing else you could do.
See more »


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

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User Reviews

Another "Lost" Noir Classic
23 July 2004 | by (Beyond The Cosmos) – See all my reviews

Here is yet another gem from the forgotten noir vault. Director Joseph Lewis trades in the quasi-cinema verite style of his GUN CRAZY(1950) for strictly in-studio work and still hits the jackpot. Cinematographer John Alton works his customary chiaroscuro artistry on a fairly straightforward tale of one frustrated but determined police detective longing to collar one supremely confident crime boss.

Cornel Wilde plays the cop with stolid righteousness (although the lawman isn't above trysting with a leggy striptease artist). But the filmmakers put the main focus on the calculating yet tortured (and torturing) mobster played by Richard Conte. Conte, spitting out many of his lines with measured bile, is brilliant: a smug, know-it-all killer backed by the ever-ready menace of Lee Van Cleef and the studied goofiness of Earl Holliman. (As written, these two bring a very special dynamic to post-World War II crime melodrama). Brian Donleavy is on hand as a washed up but still scheming mob kingpin. And Jean Wallace plays the high-falutin' moll who yearns to go back to her world of piano recitals and afternoon teas but who just can't get enough of Conte's sinister mojo. This low budget but highly effective noir makes an excellent double feature with another cheap but powerful film of the genre, BEHIND LOCKED DOORS. Both films are highly recommended.

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