The Big Heat (1953)

Fritz Lang directs Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin in this classic film noir where a police detective is taken to the edge trying to bring down corruption.

Absolutely savage. The level of violence and the hard narrative choices this casually makes would feel shocking even if it were made 30 years later. Glenn Ford’s obsessed straight arrow destroys the lives of every woman he touches, even more so than the crime ring he wants to break. Obviously the callous extremeness of this rubs against the slightly staid normality of the mainstream form of its day. Maybe that’s the point. Lang seems to be pushing himself here. There are showy shots to rival Citizen Kane (the opening feels like a direct homage) and even in talkier scenes his camera swoops gently in and out from the players. Gloria Grahame’s ditzy but combative moll absorbs all the focus in her scenes, of which there should be even more. If you’ve got dynamite, why not blow up as much as you can?


Perfect Double Bill: The Woman In the Window (1944)

Check out my wife Natalie’s Point Horror blog

We also do a podcast together called The Worst Movies We Own. It is available on Spotify or here

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