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The Big Heat (1953)

Columbia Pictures was already a leading producer of films noir and gangster pictures when the Kefauver Senate hearings on organized crime shocked the nation in the early 1950s. With public interest in the mob on the rise, several studios turned out films about the creeping corruption in American life, but few had contract talent comparable to director Fritz Lang and stars Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame. They turned the story of a cop and a moll out for revenge on a sadistic gangster (Lee Marvin) and his boss (Alexander Scourby) into a modern-day Götterdämmerung. Lang’s taut direction, the vivid chiaroscuro cinematography of Charles Lang and powerful performances from the entire cast create one of the screen’s greatest depictions of violent crime and merciless punishment.

d. Fritz Lang, 90m, DCP