The Big Heat
Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics 1
Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin, Gloria Grahame
Directed by Fritz Lang
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 2009
Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics 1 features 5 mystery movies on 5 DVD. The keystone in this set is The Big Heat, a Fritz Lang film with Lee Marvin and Glenn Ford. The other film noir are 5 Against the House (1955) with Guy Madison and Kim Novak, The Sniper (1952) with Adolphe Menjou, Murder By Contract (1958), and The Lineup (1958) with Eli Wallach.
The Big Heat opens with the suicide of a cop. Detective Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford) gets the case. There is no doubt it was a suicide but the motive is what Bannion starts looking for. He is almost immediately warned off the case and his first witness is killed immediately. There is no doubt in Bannion’s mind everything is related to crime kingpin Mike Lagana.
The second warning Bannion gets is much more drastic and hits close to home. This sets him off on a quest for vengeance. This vengeance involves Lagana’s man Vince Stone (Lee Marvin). Gloria Grahame plays a gangster’s moll.
Film Noir fans claim this Fritz Lang movie is one of his better ones. I did not find it particularly noteworthy. The Big Heat is a good mystery but not a great one. Perhaps the focus on the change Bannion’s character undergoes is no longer such a novelty. There is also the fact that visually this film noir is not especially interesting.
Special features on this film in the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics 1 box set are an introduction by Martin Scorcese and one by Michael Mann.