IMDb > The Big Combo (1955)
The Big Combo
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The Big Combo (1955) More at IMDbPro »

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User Rating:
7.4/10   4,733 votes »
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Down 31% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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Release Date:
13 February 1955 (USA) See more »
The Most Startling Story The Screen Has Ever Dared Reveal!
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
User Reviews:
Classic crime thriller with noir leanings and memorable scenes See more (67 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Cornel Wilde ... Police Lt. Leonard Diamond

Richard Conte ... Mr. Brown

Brian Donlevy ... Joe McClure

Jean Wallace ... Susan Lowell

Robert Middleton ... Police Capt. Peterson

Lee Van Cleef ... Fante

Earl Holliman ... Mingo

Helen Walker ... Alicia Brown
Jay Adler ... Detective Sam Hill

John Hoyt ... Nils Dreyer

Ted de Corsia ... Ralph Bettini

Helene Stanton ... Rita
Roy Gordon ... Audubon

Whit Bissell ... Doctor (scenes deleted) (as Whit Bissel)
Steve Mitchell ... Bennie Smith - Boxer
Baynes Barron ... Young Detective
James McCallion ... Frank - Lab Technician
Tony Michaels ... Photo Technician
Brian O'Hara ... Attorney Malloy

Rita Gould ... Nurse
Bruce Sharpe ... Detective
Michael Mark ... Fred - Hotel Clerk

Philip Van Zandt ... Mr. Jones (scenes deleted)
Donna Drew ... Miss Hartleby
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Alex Ball ... Nightclub Patron (uncredited)
Eve Bernhardt ... Cabaret Showgirl (uncredited)
Jack Chefe ... Waiter (uncredited)
James Conaty ... Dance Extra at Club (uncredited)
Russell Custer ... Police Officer (uncredited)
Jakob Gimpel ... Pianist (uncredited)

Herbert Lytton ... Waiter (uncredited)
Ray Spiker ... Hood (uncredited)

Directed by
Joseph H. Lewis  (as Joseph Lewis)
Writing credits
Philip Yordan (by)

Produced by
Sidney Harmon .... producer
Walter Mirisch .... executive producer (uncredited)
Cornel Wilde .... associate producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
David Raksin 
Cinematography by
John Alton (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Robert S. Eisen  (as Robert Eisen)
Production Design by
Rudi Feld 
Set Decoration by
Jack McConaghy 
Makeup Department
Larry Butterworth .... makeup artist
Carla Hadley .... hair stylist
Production Management
George Moskov .... production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Robert H. Justman .... assistant director (as Robert Justman)
Mack V. Wright .... assistant director (as Mack Wright)
Sound Department
Earl Snyder .... sound
Special Effects by
Louis DeWitt .... special photographic effects
Jack Rabin .... special photographic effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Harry Sundby .... lighting
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Don Loper .... wardrobe designer: Jean Wallace
Music Department
Jakob Gimpel .... musician: piano solo (as Jacob Gimpel)
Robert Tracy .... music editor
Shelly Manne .... musician: drum solo during torture sequence (uncredited)
Shorty Rogers and His Giants .... musicians: source music during torture sequence (uncredited)
Other crew
Mary Chaffee .... set continuity

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
89 min | USA:84 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA)
Finland:K-16 | France:16 | Netherlands:18 (original rating) (1955) | Portugal:17 (censored) | Sweden:15 | UK:PG (DVD rating) | West Germany:18 (nf)

Did You Know?

Jack Palance was originally hired for the role of "Mr. Brown", but after clashing with the producers, he left the production. Before leaving he recommended they hire Richard Conte to replace him, which they did.See more »
Continuity: 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 »
Mr. Brown:Joe, tell the man I'm gonna break him so fast, he won't have time to change his pants. Tell him the next time I see him, he'll be in the lobby of the hotel, crying like a baby and asking for a ten dollar loan. Tell him that. And tell him I don't break my word.
Leonard Diamond:You must have done something pretty fine to get as high as you are, Mr. Brown. I'm looking into that. I'm gonna open you up, and I'm gonna operate. I hate to think of what I'll find.
See more »
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22 out of 27 people found the following review useful.
Classic crime thriller with noir leanings and memorable scenes, 21 December 2004
Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom

Police Lieutenant Leonard Diamond is a driven man; he has seen the Organisation grow in strength daily with Mr Brown at its head. He has seen innocents being sucked into crime by the syndicate and he has had enough. With his expenses spiralling out of control, he is put under pressure to close his investigation but his anger at Brown and his love for his girl, Susan, keeps him going. A chance discovery of a mysterious woman called Alicia starts a trail of information that offers Diamond the chance to cut off the head and kill the snake if, that is, he can stay alive long enough to do it.

Although it has been many years since I first saw this film it has stayed with me ever since, a classic crime thriller with elements of noir and some very memorable moments. The basic plot is about a crime syndicate and the cop who is trying to bring it down and this is very well done throughout. The plot is a bit of a mystery in this regard as Diamond tries to build a puzzle with most of the pieces missing but the plot is only a part of this film working as well as it does. One of the main factors making it so good is the consistently tough tone of the material that can be seen in many ways. It has all the usual stuff in the tough characters spouting quotable dialogue with the rat-a-tat-tat rhythm of a tommy gun but also has many tough scenes of brutality, my favourite being the unforgettable execution that takes place in total silence – the perfect conclusion to a scene that had been built up with such tension.

The film adds to this with elements more suited to noir than gangster movies. The "hero" is a deeply flawed man driven more by hate than righteousness, unable to get Brown's girl he turns to a low rent show girl (although it is clear that she is a prostitute) meanwhile we have corruption within the authorities hinted at – it is all nicely twisted, not quite a fully blown noir but it takes elements and blends them well to produce a superb mix. The cast match this with some great performances. Conte gets the headlines because he gets the cool character and the toughest dialogue but for me it is Wilde that makes the film his own with a convincing portrayal of a man who is driven by hate as much as love until, finding neither, he uses a "lesser" woman to satisfy his lust – only for it to sink him deeper into apparent self-loathing. He is a bit wild-eyed at times but generally he gets it spot on with a complex performance that says as much with his expressions as he does with his dialogue. Donlevy is good in a small role and the female characters are well done (for different reasons) by Wallace and Stanton. Lee Van Cleef was a surprise find in a minor role but really the film belongs to Wilde and Conte who really go to town with the chance.

Overall this is not a normal crime syndicate thriller as the title suggests, but nor is it a traditional noir. Instead it is a fine blend of the two with the best elements of each working to produce a classic crime thriller with atmospheric direction, tough dialogue, brutally memorable scenes and great performances. Complex characters and a morally ambiguous hero only helps the film's impact making this one well worth hunting down (can you believe it has only had a few hundred votes on this site? I despair.)

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