(Review originally written at 15 January 2010)

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

As much as I love Fritz Lang's early work from the '20's and '30's, I also must say that he really made some bad movies later in his career. Luckily "The Big Heat" is one of those exceptions to this.

In its core this movie is an early revenge flick, in which a man goes after the persons responsible for the death of his wife, after an hit on him has gone wrong. He is later joined by a female who herself also has a score to settle. Like basically all film-noir's this movie is a pretty straight-forward one, that shows some violence in it. I also must say that the shootout at the ending also really reminded me of some good action flicks. Fritz Lang of course always had been a director exploring new grounds and did some groundbreaking stuff for the early cinema. Till some extend "The Big Heat" is also a movie like that.

In these type of movies it's always important that you have the right type of characters in it. You need a tough main character, preferable one that is carrying a big loss or grudge with him, a femme fatale and of course an evil, influential crime boss. This movie does certainly has all of these things in it.

It helps the movie of course also a lot that it had got some great actors to fill the parts. Glenn Ford, who really didn't do much film-noir throughout his career, is a great leading man for this movie and he meets his match in the still quite young and unknown Lee Marvin. Also Marlon Brando's older sister Jocelyn Brando plays a fine role in this movie.

The story is really one that suits the genre and helps to keep the movie going and a compelling one to watch. At times you really need to keep paying attention, or you might loose track, as always is the case with the best movies that are part of the film-noir genre.

The movie itself is perhaps not being as film-noir like as some different movie examples and crime/thriller is perhaps a more fair way to describe it. It still has some familiar film-noir ingredients in it but it's just a bit more difficult placing this movie under one genre. But that's Fritz Lang for you, always trying out some new stuff and exploring some new unfamiliar grounds.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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