The Big Heat
Detective 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, 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.
Director Fritz Lang, is at the top of his craft with this interesting film noir that pays off in unexpected ways. “The Big Heat” is one of those rare films in which all the elements come together with surprising results.
Corruption in higher places is the basis of the story. A good police detective who cares enough to keep on probing into the suicide of one of his comrades, is what brings Dave Bannion, not only to the attention of the higher ups in the police department, but to Lagana and the mobsters that work for this evil man.
Tragedy finds a way into Dave’s home that makes him even more resolved into seeking justice and unmasking the mobsters found along the way that have a grip on the police department.
The casting of “The High Heat” is what makes this film different from the rest of the films of the genre. Glenn Ford made an excellent appearance in the film. He gives one of the best performances of his career. But of course, the film belongs to Gloria Grahame, the bad girl in most of the films of this genre.
A young Lee Marvin is perfectly creepy as Vince Stone, a man who gets what’s coming to him at the end in a memorable sequence playing against Ms. Grahame. Jeannette Nolan makes a valuable contribution as the bad widow of the man that commits suicide. Alexander Scourby, as Lagana has some good moments. Joselyn Brando plays Dave’s wife. Also, in a small part we see Carolyn Jones.
When Lee Marvin first sees Glenn Ford face to face, the music in the background is “Put the Blame on Mame,” a reference to Ford’s performance in Gilda (1946).
Bannion’s wife Katie is played by Jocelyn Brando, older sister of Marlon.