Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Big Heat (Lang, 1953): Mini-Film Review

Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame are stellar in this, one of the best film noir crime dramas of the 1950s. The movie includes, to this day, one of the most sadistic outbursts of angry violence on film when Vince Stone (Lee Marvin) splashes a pot of burning coffee across Debby’s (Grahame’s) face. What stands out is the inability of Ford’s character Bannion to maintain a Leave it to Beaver-esque, seemingly perfect, hetero-normative, cookie-cutter lifestyle -- which exists and has every potential to thrive in the film -- after a crime syndicate sets out to destroy everything he loves. Redeemable seedy characters in the film similarly long for the domestic lifestyle Bannion no longer has access to. Crime destroyed family values, apparently. The 1950s never looked so great, realistic, and bad.

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