Big Combo

Big Combo

Director: Joseph H. Lewis

Cast: Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Brian Donlevy

     
 

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Police Lt. Leonard Diamond (Cornel Wilde) is criticized by his superior Capt. Peterson (Robert Middleton) for his obsessive but fruitless investigation of organized crime boss Mr. Brown (Richard Conte). Peterson calls it a waste of the taxpayers' money motivated by Diamond's love for Brown's girlfriend Susan Lowell (Jean Wallace). Watched at all times by henchmen… See more details below

Overview

Police Lt. Leonard Diamond (Cornel Wilde) is criticized by his superior Capt. Peterson (Robert Middleton) for his obsessive but fruitless investigation of organized crime boss Mr. Brown (Richard Conte). Peterson calls it a waste of the taxpayers' money motivated by Diamond's love for Brown's girlfriend Susan Lowell (Jean Wallace). Watched at all times by henchmen Mingo (Earl Holliman) and Fante (Lee Van Cleef), and masochistically drawn to Brown, Susan is unable to walk away from him. She overdoses on pills in a suicide attempt and, in her delirium, utters the name "Alicia." Diamond follows up on that new lead, and as he gets closer to defeating his adversary, the arrogant and sadistic Brown retaliates by capturing and torturing Diamond. Meanwhile Brown's former boss but now humiliated underling, Joe McClure (Brian Donlevy), believing that Brown has gone too far in his personal vendetta against Diamond, tries to enlist Mingo and Fante in overthrowing him. However, they remain loyal, and, in a chillingly silent scene visually punctuated by flashes of gunfire, they shoot the deaf McClure after Brown removes his hearing aid. Though superficially a story of good vs. evil, Joseph H. Lewis's film noir presents a complex world, visually captured by John Alton's stark photography, in which the lines between good/evil and love/hate are not always clear.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Michael Costello
The abstract beauty of Joseph H. Lewis' harsh, classic noir may be the best work of legendary cinematographer John Alton in the genre he did so much to shape. Although tightly scripted, the banal tale of a cop's obsessive quest to nail a powerful mobster would seem to hold few surprises, but here the plot elements are overwhelmed by a subtext of erotic obsession and implied depravity. Cornel Wilde's investigation is clearly driven by his worship of nice-girl-gone-bad Jean Wallace, who is held in sexual thrall by Richard Conte's mobster. In the film's most controversial scene, the gangster silences her words of contempt by working his way down her body with kisses to an ecstatic response. The film's uglier violence is often offscreen, but a notoriously inventive Tarantino-like torture sequence involving a hearing aid is enough to sustain its lurid tone. Alton is the film's major factor, and his brilliant low-key lighting effects and imaginative camera placement effectively mask the limitations of Wilde, Wallace, and the sometimes inane dialogue. In a film that is often literally very dark, the cameraman's geometrical shafts of light seem to fall across this unsavory crew with an accusatory glare.

Product Details

Release Date:
10/26/2004
UPC:
0089218452795
Original Release:
1955
Rating:
NR
Source:
Alpha Video
Region Code:
0
Presentation:
[B&W]
Time:
1:24:00
Sales rank:
49,030

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Cornel Wilde Leonard Diamond
Richard Conte Mr. Brown
Brian Donlevy McClure
Jean Wallace Susan Lowell
Robert Middleton Peterson
Lee Van Cleef Fante
Earl Holliman Mingo
Helen Walker Alicia
Jay Adler Sam Hill
John Hoyt Dreyer
Ted de Corsia Bettini
Helene Stanton Rita
Roy Gordon Audubon
Whit Bissell Doctor
Steve Mitchell Bennie Smith
Baynes Barron Young Detective
James McCallion Lab Technician
Tony Michaels Actor
Brian O'Hara Malloy
Rita Gould Nurse
Bruce Sharpe Actor
Michael Mark Hotel Clerk
Philip Van Zandt Mr. Jones
Donna Drew Miss Hartleby

Technical Credits
Joseph H. Lewis Director
John Alton Cinematographer
Robert S. Eisen Editor
Rudi Feld Production Designer
Sidney Harmon Producer
Don Loper Costumes/Costume Designer
David Raksin Score Composer
Philip Yordan Screenwriter

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Chapter 1 [1:45]
2. Chapter 2 [12:25]
3. Chapter 3 [13:55]
4. Chapter 4 [14:10]
5. Chapter 5 [14:00]
6. Chapter 6 [15:08]

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