Fritz Lang's 1953 crime film noir The Big Sleep

The Big Heat • Member Bonus Episode

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How about some hot coffee in the face? No? Well, Gloria Grahame sure gives it a shot here in this brutal crime noir film directed by Fritz Lang in 1953, starring Glenn Ford as a ruthless cop hellbent on stopping the local crime syndicate, no matter who dies in his way. This is our May 2021 Member Bonus Episode, voted on by you – our members. It’s a dip back into our Fritz Lang series from 2016, and a solid film to finally review.

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“Not much more than a suitcase of nothing between them and the gutter.”

The Big Heat came at a point in director Fritz Lang’s career when he was still working in the darker elements of film noir while also beginning to explore his pessimistic side about humans and their ways. It wasn’t a big budget endeavor, but right in that low budget crime thriller world Lang was so used to. The story is about police detective Dave Bannion, played by Glenn Ford, bound and determined to bring down the local crime syndicate. Many people die as he works to achieve his goal, and Bannion never really seems to notice. Also starring Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin, Jocelyn Brando, Alexander Scourby, and Jeanette Nolan, this crime film is as much a film noir as anything else, even if Lang shakes things up a bit in the process. And Lang certainly doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the story. Most notable is the hot coffee thrown into Grahame’s character’s face, leaving her horribly scarred for the rest of the film. It’s powerful stuff and works brilliantly in the best noir traditions. For our May member bonus episode, we dip back into our Fritz Lang series from 2016 with his 1953 film The Big Heat. If you want to tune in, you need to become a member. Click here to learn more!

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