The Big Heat

Tough cop Dave Bannion takes on a politically powerful crime syndicate.
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Credits: TheMovieDb.

Film Cast:

  • Det. Sgt. Dave Bannion: Glenn Ford
  • Debby Marsh: Gloria Grahame
  • Katie Bannion: Jocelyn Brando
  • Mike Lagana: Alexander Scourby
  • Vince Stone: Lee Marvin
  • Bertha Duncan: Jeanette Nolan
  • Tierney: Peter Whitney
  • Lt. Ted Wilks: Willis Bouchey
  • Det. Gus Burke: Robert Burton
  • Larry Gordon: Adam Williams
  • Doris: Carolyn Jones
  • Police Commissioner Higgins: Howard Wendell
  • George Rose: Chris Alcaide
  • Hugo: Michael Granger
  • Lucy Chapman: Dorothy Green
  • Baldy: Ric Roman
  • Mr. Atkins: Dan Seymour
  • Selma Parker: Edith Evanson
  • Hank O’Connell (uncredited): Harry Lauter
  • Segal (uncredited): Michael Ross
  • Retreat Waiter (uncredited): Phil Arnold
  • Retreat Bartender (uncredited): Sidney Clute
  • Retreat Patron (uncredited): Michael Jeffers
  • Joyce Bannion (uncredited): Linda Bennett
  • Police Guard Outside Lagana Home (uncredited): Charles Cane
  • Police Surgeon (uncredited): Byron Kane
  • Policeman (uncredited): John Close
  • Hettrick (uncredited): Phil Chambers
  • Al – Bannion’s Brother-in-Law (uncredited): John Crawford
  • Mark Reiner (uncredited): John Doucette
  • Harry Shoenstein (uncredited): Al Eben
  • Councilman Gillen (uncredited): Douglas Evans
  • Sailor (uncredited): Fritz Ford
  • Cabby (uncredited): Donald Kerr
  • Moving Man (uncredited): Lyle Latell
  • Man (uncredited): John Merton
  • Lagana’s Mother in Portrait (uncredited): Celia Lovsky
  • Lagana’s Butler (uncredited): Ted Stanhope
  • Martin (uncredited): Herbert Lytton
  • Dixon (uncredited): Mike Mahoney
  • B-Girl (uncredited): Laura Mason
  • George Fuller (uncredited): Paul Maxey
  • Medical Examiner (uncredited): Joseph Mell
  • Intern (uncredited): Patrick Miller
  • Reds (uncredited): William Murphy
  • Mrs Tucker (uncredited): Ezelle Poule
  • Jill (uncredited): Norma Randall
  • Bill Rutherford (uncredited): Robert Stevenson
  • Janitor (uncredited): William Vedder

Film Crew:

  • Director: Fritz Lang
  • Director of Photography: Charles Lang
  • Costume Design: Jean Louis
  • Sound Engineer: George Cooper
  • Music Director: Mischa Bakaleinikoff
  • Editor: Charles Nelson
  • Original Story: William P. McGivern
  • Producer: Robert Arthur
  • Makeup Artist: Clay Campbell
  • Hairstylist: Helen Hunt
  • Set Decoration: William Kiernan
  • Assistant Director: Milton Feldman
  • Screenplay: Sydney Boehm
  • Original Music Composer: Henry Vars
  • Original Music Composer: Arthur Morton
  • Art Direction: Robert Peterson

Movie Reviews:

  • John Chard: Fritz Lang deals nicely in obsession and corruption.

    Detective Dave Bannion is investigating the suicide of corrupt cop Tom Duncan. As he gets deeper, and his colleagues get nervous, his wife is inadvertently killed by a car bomb that was meant for him, he turns from mannered family man into a vengeful obsessive, the heat is most definitely coming down on those responsible.

    Writer Sydney Boehm took a “Saturday Evening Post” serial (written by William McGiven), and crafted a tight, biting and incredibly bleak script. Handed it into director Fritz Lang’s hands, who then cloaked it (along with Charles Lang’s perfectly apt photography) with dripping noir nastiness. Playing out as a tale of murder, revenge and pure hatred, The Big Heat holds up now as one of the best of the dialogue driven noir pieces of the 50s.

    Lang isn’t concerned with showing the violence exactly, more like the reaction of our protagonists to the violence in the piece, this makes for a sort of ethereal viewing, with the sets themselves becoming integral to our characters personalities. The cast are excellent, Glenn Ford as Bannion was never better than he is here, but even he is playing second fiddle to the fabulous Gloria Grahame as Debby Marsh, a Moll who makes a decision that has very far reaching consequences. It begs the question as to why Grahame never had a far better career, for here she is one of film noir’s best (anti?) heroines. Rounding out a trio of great performances are Lee Marvin as the vile and brutal Vince Stone – Marvin of course would go on from here and deliver a ream of brilliant gruff hard bastard performances. A potent, gripping and superb piece of film noir. 9/10

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