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The Big Combo (Cinema Deluxe)
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A prime example of the American film noir style that flourished during the 1940s and '50s, The Big Combo is now highly regarded as a stylistic milestone for its innovative use of deep shadows and harsh, singular light sources to define its visual strategy. This look is largely credited to the rule-breaking brilliance of cinematographer John Alton, who turns a standard plot of the era into a richly atmospheric experiment in visual invention. Ignoring conventional approaches to lighting, Alton defines the screen in terms of blackness, often framing characters as silhouettes cast in ominous grays or thick, roiling fogs. Moving from clarity to abstraction with masterful grades in between, Alton's trend-setting style has been celebrated by cinematographers since the film's release in 1955.
The film's plot keeps brisk pace with the visuals, focusing on the obsessive efforts of a tenacious detective (Cornel Wilde) to destroy a sadistic mobster (Richard Conte) whose vicious influence has nearly ruined the life of the woman (Jean Wallace) he keeps under his dark wing. Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman are nicely cast as the villain's toady henchmen, and Brian Donlevy's usual limitations serve him well as the humbled, frustrated kingpin who's been stifled by Conte's ambition. Director Joseph H. Lewis previously demonstrated his raw, stylistic vigor with the earlier cult favorite Gun Crazy, and here he's in peak form with a perfect match of subject and sensibility. The result is hard-boiled entertainment that still packs a punch. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Cornell Wilde is a tough, uncompromisingly honest cop who is belittle by his equally determined adversary, Richard Conte, for being so bright yet ending up with such a small paycheck at the end of the week. Wilde has two reasons for bringing down the cocky Conte, that earlier expressed of seeking to make the city a more decent place with the mobster's loss of influence. The other is that he holds a passionate love for the beautiful blonde controlled in such a tight vise by Conte that she attempts suicide. The blonde is Wilde's real life wife, Jean Wallace, and Wilde is determined to pull her away from the egomaniacally dominating Conte before she is destroyed.
For a large part of the film Conte laughs at Wilde, taunting him over his ineffectuality, telling him he is wasting his time attempting to put him away. This is largely a bluff, though, since he recognizes Wilde's zealousness and competence. At one point his henchmen kill a lovely young stripper going with the policeman, intending to terminate Wilde instead.
Wilde is able to crack the case when he learns about the existence of Conte's wife, thought to be dead, played by Helen Walker. When Wilde gets the goods on the mobster and is ready to arrest him Conte begs his adversary to kill him. Wilde will have none of it, telling Conte that he will instead be tried, convicted, and sent to prison, where he will be a man devoid of power. Wilde knows that this is a much sterner punishment to Conte than death by execution.
Most recent customer reviews
This is an excellent film noire type movie; it has everything you would expect from this type of movie and is high recommended.Published 2 months ago by Western Maven
Solid transfer of a must own movie. Great to see it looking this good. Price is better than anywhere else at the time of this review too. Delivery was prompt. Read morePublished on Oct. 28 2013 by Mattdpnt
Fans of the Noire B-Picture can learn a lot from this movie. Joseph Lewis (the magnificent "Gun Crazy") helms it, John Alton ( "T-Men", "Railroaded", and the astounding "Raw... Read morePublished on June 24 2002 by Mad Dog
Great movie and one of the best examples of film noir but this release is awful. The image quality is terrible and it looks like it is copy off an old print with bad scratches,... Read morePublished on Dec 18 2001 by dwdp
Movie about a dedicated detective hot on the trail of a gangster while at the same time hot for his girl. Read morePublished on Oct. 13 2001 by Obsidian
Gritty, entertaining story is nevertheless upstaged by excellent cinematography and direction. However, not for those who can't take an unrelenting grim tone. Read morePublished on Sept. 18 2001 by Joseph P. Menta, Jr.
Noir fans know this one, but many more people beyond that select group should know it, too. This is a gripping tale about two men obsessed with destroying each other while they... Read morePublished on Aug. 10 2001
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