Politics, Technology, and Language

If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought — George Orwell

The Big Heat: Fritz Lang’s Serpico

Posted by metaphorical on 11 January 2012

Straight-as-an-arrow police sergeant Dave Bannion has no truck with the corruption that surrounds him, until he finally has to team up with kept woman Debby Marsh (Gloria Grahame) to solve a crime and extract revenge.

The Big Heat, 1953

Police sergeant Glenn Ford is tough as nails, but has a heart of gold. Gloria Grahame is a kept woman, but has a heart of gold. Everyone else is a crook and a louse, except for the woman who works at the auto repair shop, and you can tell she’s a good egg because she walks with a cane.

The plot of The Big Heat is a straight line from the first scene to the end, with a single I-can’t-believe-they-did-that moment in the middle that’s telegraphed so thoroughly the they should save their money and put a first class stamp on it.

Still, even on an off day Fritz Lang can create eye candy out of nothing but lighting and camera angles. If you want to see Gloria Grahame when she has some real material to work with, go straight to In a Lonely Place. As for the other principal, he’s quite good here, but has there ever been a truly great Glenn Ford movie?

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