Review: The Big Heat (Blu-ray)

Twilight Time orders up a hot serving of noir with Fritz Lang's classic The Big Heat onto a Limited Editon Blu-ray!

  • Director: Fritz Lang
  • Starring: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Jocelyn Brando, Lee Marvin
  • Year: 1953
  • Runtime: 89 Minutes
  • Company: Twilight Time
  • Format: Blu-ray
  • Discs: 1 - 25GB
  • Video: 1.34:1 - 1080p - AVC
  • Audio: English DTS-HD MA Mono
  • Region: A
  • Released: 5/8/2012

Fritz Lang has had one hell of career. In the short span of 5 years, Lang directed two of the greatest films of all time - Metropolis & M. Those films are not only massive celluloid accomplishments but are extremely vital to the development of the German Expressionism movement. Lang would soon after migrate to Hollywood where he'd further contribute, shape, and define the film noir genre - ultimately mastering it with The Big Heat.
Homicide detective Dave Bannion (Glenn Ford, who I just now discovered is Pa Kent in Donner's Superman!) is a dying breed. Honest, faithful & devoted, Bannion is simply the last of his kind in the city's precinct. Further proven after an act of suicide from a fellow officer unravels into something much more - a hot mess of secrets involving crime syndicates & double crossed lovers, sending Bannion down a cold road of revenge to blow this whole ordeal wide open.
Iconic is a heavy word, but that's exactly what The Big Heat embodies. The characters, the plot, the setting - it's all just cinematic heaven. Ford's portrayal as the tough as nails detective is flawless, an equal mix of cool & smooth that all cinema characters strive to imitate. Gloria Grahame's sexy, chatterbox femme fatale is screen stealing and one of a kind. Hell, the entire supporting cast of the film (Jocelyn Brando, Lee Marvin, Alexander Scourby) are all heavy hitting players that deserve top billing.
Two scenes in particular elevate The Big Heat to classic, must see status alone based on the sheer amount of unexpected insanity. Fritz Lang builds the tension up to a blistering boil (literally) resulting in numerous vocal gasps and constant outburst of "did that really just happen?!".
The Big Heat is a one-two punch of cinema that packs a furious wallop of twists, turns & surprisingly a shocking amount of violence. Quadruple that with some of the most razor sharp & quickly fired dialogue this reviewer has ever heard delivered by some of that bygone era's finest actors - I have no qualms with backing up the decades establishment of declaring this film a rightful masterpiece.

  • Video
Twilight Time brings The Big Heat to Blu-ray for the first time with a 1.34:1 framed, 1080p transfer that's technically pristine & gorgeous on the eyes. The Black & White cinematography is expertly lensed and is faithfully represented here, it's a total joy to watch. Grain structure is intact and natural with much detail present throughout. The treatment this has received is stunning and should be the standard for all catalog titles. Twilight Time is building a reputation that should be synonymous with Criterion standards, we needn't worry about the quality of releases from this label. They've earned my support and respect.
  • Audio
The sole English DTS-HD MA Mono track included is audibly healthy, a front speaker focused mix that delivers a boost of surround action during the films more robust moments. Dialogue is always clear with zero background hiss or pops.

Bonus Features
  • Booklet
Julie Kirgo once again writes up a loving and highly informative piece detailing the production, theme and overall impact of The Big Heat. Twilight Time's booklets more than make up for the on-disc absence of bonus features and always come highly recommended reading.
  • Theatrical Trailer
Presented in HD, this trailer is super spoilery (like most, if not all trailers from that period) but filled with on-screen text (such as "Vice...Dice and Corruption") that is a hoot to read.
  • Isolated Score
Like all Twilight Time discs, the option to solely listen to the films' score while watching is available in English DTS-HD MA 2.0.
  • Twilight Time Catalog
A digital feature that allows you to scroll through the labels catalog of current and upcoming releases.

Order Direct from Twilight Time's Exclusive Online Distributor, Screen Archives!