The Big Heat is one of the most
famous noir films of all time and it has remained as a genuine
classic in the genre. Directed by Fritz Lang, the gritty and
dark journey taken contains shocks, and icy coldness. With solid
performances from a cast including Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame,
and Lee Marvin, audiences will continue to be impressed by the
decidedly dark film about the evil that can permeate the world
of good and that can even corrupt those who want to fight for
Dave Bannion (Glenn
Ford) is a policeman thrown into difficult circumstances when he
is trying to finish and close a case involving an apparent
suicide by a fellow police officer. Upon meeting with the
recently deceased officer's wife he learns of ill health and
decides the case is closed. In short time things change. A
mistress appears to tell him of her relationship with the
officer, and about how his health wasn't poor at all.
writes off their encounter as being the indication of anything
other than the deceased man's affair, but the following day he
learns that things might be more complicated than he previously
thought. The mistress was found dead a mere few hours past their
meeting time and not in a way that would
indicate anything besides murder. It isn't long before these
matters become further complicated and especially for Bannion.
The safety of a loving wife, Katie (Jocelyn Brando) and their
adoring daughter are called into question.
Things begin to unravel
quickly. Bannion uncovers the work of a syndicate boss crime
leader with connections everywhere. Following a tragedy closely
tied to Bannion, he becomes truly outraged with a determination
to stop the crime boss permanently at any cost to himself. The
road becomes paved with blood and terrible events. One moment
after another... things are spiraling out of control for
Upon this fast-paced
journey of determination, Bannion meets a gangster lover. Her
name is Debby Marsh (performed with an amazing flair by Gloria
Grahame) and we recognize as an audience that she has a sweet
heart despite being involved in a wicked person's world. In an
entirely disturbing and sadistic moment her gangster boyfriend
Vince Stone (Lee Marvin) is revealed as an animalistic monster.
Things spiral out of control for her and before long she's
seeking revenge alongside Bannion. The pair works as necessary
until the darker, bitter, and disturbing end arrives without a
moment of solitude before the grim conclusion.
Fritz Lang is a great
filmmaker. It might seem redundant to reiterate that, at least
but that's the case with his style. He knew how to tell a story
with cinema and he is still regarded highly because his films
were also groundbreaking works. Metropolis is arguably still
the most famous and talked about production crafted by the
auteur Lang, but with his noir styling things became
particularly interesting when he directed The Big Heat, from a script
by Sydney Boehm. Based upon a serialized story, The Big Heat signaled in a new
wave of noir filmmaking that was extra gritty with surplus
helpings of darkness that permeated the genre even beyond the
founding of it as a genre.
Fans of stylistically
creative filmmaking will certainly be amazed by the way Fritz
Lang directs. The Big Heat is actually the kind of film that
could have wound up being disastrous. Certainly, things are so
complicated in the story that a less talented director might
have turned the rather solid and complex script by Boehm into a
parody of itself or as something akin to a standard over-the-top
attempt at a standard Saturday-matinee throwaway film. Instead, The Big Heat helped define the
genre beyond an already established expectation by being
something that handled the material in such a serious light. The
film represents a major accomplishment in motion-picture history
and remains a must-see for serious film buffs. You may want for
the lights to stay on though. With The Big Heat...
there is darkness everywhere.
The 1.37:1 full
frame presentation preserves the original theatrical aspect
ratio. That's good news, right? It gets even better than that.
In fact... it gets far better. This
is a nearly pristine transfer of the film. There are a few
moments where some specks of dirt can be seen, but it barely
occurs and almost isn't even noticeable. Most people won't be
distracted at all. This transfer managed to be amazingly close
to perfection. The black levels are strong and with accuracy and
a layer of fine film grain closes out the solid presentation as
one of the finest available for a black and white film noir.
It's hard to imagine anyone being disappointed.
Described with one
The 1.0 DTS-HD
Master Audio presentation doesn't have an ounce of
disappointment in it. The audio is so clean, sharp, and
satisfying as a mono presentation that I was left feeling amazed
by the output here. It not only preserves the original way in
which the film sounded in theaters, it might even be better.
This release contains an amazing lossless mono mix.
The extras are
pretty slim but not without some merit. The disc includes a 2.0
DTS-HD Master Audio track containing the isolated film score.
This is an altogether amazing inclusion for film music fans. There
is also a well-written essay included in an enclosed booklet.
The essay was written by critic Julie Kirgo and it elaborates on
a number of issues relevant to understanding The Big Heat.
The theatrical trailer for The Big Heat is also included in High
Definition, and sadly is a bit of a joke because of how
inaccurately it attempts to portray this film as a rather
preposterous and poorly made B movie instead of as the serious
film it actually is.
Big Heat is one of the best noir films around and one of
the several masterworks by director Fritz Lang. It's a great
movie and one that movie buffs everywhere would likely enjoy.
For any viewers who have seen the film before it's worth noting
that this Blu-ray is incredible and does offer a substantial
upgrade value with the amazing picture quality. Newcomers won't
likely be disappointed either and are encouraged to seek out the
film and specifically this wonderful Blu-ray release.
a solid purchase and if you want to order it do so soon. Only
3,000 copies were produced and I would expect there to far less
available than that now. Keep that in mind when deciding when to
pick up a copy from Twilight Time.
Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.