The Big Heat

"The Big Heat" (1953)“A hard cop and a soft dame
…in a brass-knuckle thriller!”

Tagline, “The Big Heat” (1953)

Gloria Grahame, winner of 'Best Supporting Actress' the year before (1952) for "The Bad and the Beautiful", plays Debby Marsh, beautiful moll and kept-woman of sadistic thug Vince Stone (Lee Marvin).

Gloria Grahame, winner of ‘Best Supporting Actress’ the year before (1952) for “The Bad and the Beautiful”, plays Debby Marsh, beautiful moll and kept-woman of sadistic thug Vince Stone (Lee Marvin).

It’s difficult not to wonder whether Lang and screenwriter Boehm harbored a deeply rooted contempt for women after seeing The Big Heat.  I can’t recall another movie from the pre-feminist era that showed such chilling disregard for its female characters. The acts of violence against them here are graphic in a casually degrading manner, as if putting too much thought into it gave the victims more importance than they deserved. It feels like a twisted form of entitlement that belongs to a distant and warped place in time.

I kept imagining what women of my mother’s generation must have endured without the benefits of wealth and education or the professional opportunities afforded their male counterparts. Those thoughts are still running through my mind as I write this.

“The Big Heat” Review by Micheal Hadley PDF  (Opens in new window,)

"The Big Heat" (1953)

Revengeful Gloria Grahame shoots the wife of the man (Lee Marvin) who disfigured her by throwing boiling coffee in her face.

The Big Heat DVD

“The Big Heat” DVD

One of the great film noirs, this unrelentingly brutal crime drama centers on a street-toughened detective’s quest for vengeance after his wife is accidentally killed by the gangsters who have been assigned to murder him.”

Working outside the law’s confines, the detective’s obsessive search for the culprits leads him into the labyrinthine bowels of mob-corrupted city politics. Much of the plot is based on the U.S. Senate investigations of 1950 that exposed the influence of organized crime upon American politics.” –  Rotten Tomatoes

Director Fritz Lang. Writers: Sydney Boehm and William P. McGivern.
Runtime: 90 mins, Studio: Columbia Pictures.

“The Big Heat” Review by Micheal Hadley PDF  (Opens in new window,)

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