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Number: TWILIGHT197-BR

Starring:  Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando, Alexander Scourby, Jeanette Nolan, Lee Marvin, Carolyn Jones
Directed By:  Fritz Lang
Composed By:  Henry Vars

“Fritz Lang’s greatest masterpiece of film noir…as deceptive and two-faced as anything Lang ever made, with its sunny domestic tranquility precariously separated from a world of violence.” – Roger Ebert

“Mr. Lang can direct a film. He has brought forth a hot one with a sting."
– The New York Times

“A narrative drive as efficient and powerful as a handgun.”
– Time Out Film Guide

A dark masterpiece of film noir, pantheon director Fritz Lang’s excoriating The Big Heat (1953) takes an unflinching look at the endemic corruption of small-town America, pitting a tough cop (Glenn Ford) against the forces of evil represented by a syndicate boss (Alexander Scourby) and his all-too-obedient flunkies within the police force. Gloria Grahame co-stars, indelibly, as a gangster’s moll with a decent heart, exploited by both good guys and bad; and Lee Marvin makes a terrifying early appearance as a thug whose sharp clothes and fancy apartment do little to conceal his animalistic nature.

Limited Edition of 3,000 Units

VIDEO: 1080p High Definition / 1.33:1
AUDIO: English 1.0 DTS-HD MA
1953 / B&W

Special Features: Isolated Score Track / Audio Commentary with Film Historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo, and Nick Redman / Michael Mann on The Big Heat / Martin Scorsese on The Big Heat / Original Theatrical Trailer

Reviews and Comments: (1)
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Posted by Mark Turner on March 22, 2016 9:37 PM

Twilight Time seems to be answering the hopes of film noire collectors this month with two releases in the genre, WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS and this film. Released earlier by the company it’s back once more. Fans will want to order early on this one since they are once again releasing the film in their usual 3,000 copies only format.

If you’ve never seen the film (and even as a film buff this was my first time) it tells the story of Det. Dave Banion (Glenn Ford), a true blue policeman working in a corrupt town where politicians rub shoulders with some of the worst criminals out there. When a police officer from records commits suicide everyone is ready to close the books on the case. But a tip leads Banion to look deeper and discover that it might not have been that simple.

As he digs deeper into what motivated the man to kill himself, Banion begins to find himself at odds with Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby), a top level hood who pulls strings in this city, including those of the police commissioner. The two find themselves at odds with Banion making threats to a calm Lagana. Only when he leaves Lagana’s home does Lagana set about an end to Banion’s investigation.

Glimpses into the idyllic home life of Banion with his wife and young daughter were shown early on in the film. His closeness and love of family on display. As he begins to tell his daughter a bed time story while his wife goes to the store he hears an explosion and goes outside to find his car in flames and his wife dead. Banion now is a man on a mission, unwilling to allow anyone to stand in his way.

Along the way Banion finds an ally in the form of Debby Marsh (Gloria Grahame), the girlfriend of Vince Stone (Lee Marvin). Stone is the right hand man of Lagana, an up and coming soldier who has his own team there to take on problems when they rise. It was Stone who was responsible for the death of Banion’s wife and Debby helps direct Banion in his direction. But at what cost? Will she make it out of this mess alive? Will Banion be able to put an end to Lagana? Or will Lagana’s ties to the city officials result in Banion taking on an impossible task?

Moments in the film seem a bit hokey for younger film viewers but will be ignored by us older folks out there. We remember movies made like this and think nothing of it. Banion’s home life seems quaint but it also sets the stage for his eventual conversion into a tool for vengeance. It has you rooting for him to succeed and take on not just the bad guy but the whole system that seems rigged to allow these criminals to flourish.

The film has an amazing look to it, no doubt because of the director, Fritz Lang. Long heralded as a master of German Expressionism in film, Lang brought a look to his pictures that made use of the black and white format rather than finding it a hindrance. The movie looks fantastic from start to finish. While it was noted for its seemingly cold attitude towards violence (the death of Banion’s wife must have startled film goers at the time as well as a brutal act Marvin’s character does to Grahame’s) the movie will seem tame by today’s standards. Still, for some it remains disturbing.

Twilight Time (it seems like I always say this but it’s true) has done an amazing job with the transfer here. The black and white images seem so sharp and clear and enjoyable. They also have more extras than usual here including the usual isolated score track and original theatrical trailer, but also an audio commentary track with film historians Lem Dobbs, Julie Kirgo and Nick Redman as well as two short discussions on the film by directors Michael Mann and Martin Scorsese.

As I stated, the movie is being reissued by Twilight Time again in an encore edition having sold out their original release of the blu-ray. Limited to only 3,000 copies it would be advisable for fans of the genre or of great classic movies to order their copy today. This would make a great addition to any serious film collector’s library.

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