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The Big Heat

Screening on Film
Directed by Fritz Lang.
With Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando.
US, 1953, 35mm, black & white, 90 min.

From its bravura opening camera movement receding, as if in shock, from a crooked cop’s suicide, The Big Heat offers one of Lang’s most relentless depictions of the enveloping world of crime, starring an especially gruff Glenn Ford as an implacable cop tracing a series of killings back to a powerful syndicate. After the murder of his wife, he turns in his badge to pursue what Lang called a “private campaign” against crime; as ever in Lang’s filmography, though, vigilantism is less a sign of heroism than hopelessness. The Big Heat’sspasms of violence and finely delineated shades of corruption forge an especially damaging portrait of the violence and anxiety pervading fifties’ America. A dark monument to cruelty and power abuse, The Big Heat is buttressed by the striking presence of Gloria Grahame and Lee Marvin, whose quivering lip provides Lang with one of his most indelible images of sadism.

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The Complete Fritz Lang

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The Dark Worlds of Fritz Lang – Part Two

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