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The Big Combo (Cinema Deluxe)

4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Conte, Jean Wallace, Cornel Wilde, Brian Donlevy, Robert Middleton
  • Directors: Joseph H. Lewis
  • Writers: Philip Yordan
  • Producers: Cornel Wilde, Sidney Harmon, Walter Mirisch
  • Format: Color, DVD-Video, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: NR
  • Studio: Geneon
  • Release Date: Oct. 4 2005
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • ASIN: B000B7QCT0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #33,314 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on Sept. 25 2002
Format: DVD
Quentin Tarantino owes his career -- or what's left of it, anyway -- to Joseph L. Lewis' *The Big Combo*, from 1955. Fans of *Resevoir Dogs* will be surprised to see that the villain of the piece (a hissable Richard Conte) is named "Mr. Brown" (which was Tarantino's color-coded name in his own film). They will also be shocked to discover that Tarantino is something of a rip-off artist when they see the scene here where Conte and his goons torture a cop tied to a chair. In 1955, force-feeding someone booze, splashing it all over him, and cramming a hearing-aid into his ear with the other end attached to a radio was considered sufficient torture. In 1992, our sensibilities required the removal of the ear and splashes of gasoline. Progress. At any rate, my point is that *The Big Combo* was a very influential film noir among connoisseurs. It still packs a wallop. I take issue with the fellow from Canada below on several points. As for his sniping about the low budget here . . . yeah? So? If anyone can name a classic film noir that had an extravagant budget to play with -- with the possible exception of *Double Indemnity* -- I'd be interested to know about it. And my answer to his complaints about the dialogue is to suggest that perhaps he has confused *The Big Combo* with, well, *Double Indemnity*. I personally find the dialogue to be compact, lean and mean, and reasonably free of superfluous verbiage. (Unlike in Wilder's "classic", wherein insurance agents talk like lifelong Hell's Kitchen hoods, to say nothing of nattering voice-over narration.) There are certainly no page-long, single-space monologues in this movie. In any case, the absolutely stunning cinematography provided by the master John Alton should mute any misguided criticisms.Read more ›
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Format: DVD
This is tough, muscular film noir delivered by a master of the genre, director Joseph Lewis, whose master touch in low budget mystery gave us the unforgettable "Gun Crazy." The camera work is excellent in this epic about a large city at night, when two obsessive men do battle for turf control, giving us a microscopic view of its fierce underbelly and the ferocious mobsters who tenaciously seek to control it.
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.
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Format: DVD
The Big Combo is a film every viewer needs to own not only did it set the standard for almost every film since its release it also set a bench mark for the imagination of the viewer! Never has a film needed the viewer to belive in it's worl so much and The Big Combo paints one hell of world men are all disguting women are drugged tourted and slept with more than a pillow! The film is so dark in it's overall apperance that the charater's are bathed in the night's air. Shoes and cars glisten ever so brightly and the women more than know how to manage themselves they seem to be ahead of th emen in terms of vices! But the most ingenious scene in the whole film is between Conte and his lady love not only does it makes your eyes pop with disbelief it is an exaple of how brilliant a film can be if it trusts the film's viewer is smarter than ear-wax! Nothing at all slows down The Big Combo the dialogue rattle and the scenes of unending torture are impressive. Time has made The Big Combo aged with such a sharp cutting brillance that fims today seem only to copy its style, with a less than thrilling outcome.
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Format: VHS Tape
Movie about a dedicated detective hot on the trail of a gangster while at the same time hot for his girl. The leads consisting of Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, and Jean Wallace are excellent. Wilde stars as the obsessed (in more ways than one) detective who will stop at nothing to get his man. Conte plays the deadly calm and strangely seductive psychopathic gangster who gets under Wilde's skin. Blond beauty Wallace is the delicate and sensitive good-girl moll whom both men desire in a memorable performance as the conflicted girlfriend of Conte who knows he is thoroughly rotten and whose moral streak is repelled, but yet is powerlessly drawn to him. An amusing aside--the scene between Conte and Wallace where he kisses her on the face and then starts sliding down the length of her body, almost got cut from the movie when the Hay's office accused director Lewis of allowing oral sex to be implied onscreen. They asked him, "when Conte's character slips off camera range, where is he?" To that Lewis replied, "I don't know, maybe he went to get a cup of coffee," accused them of having dirty minds, and that put an end to that. Also good are Brian Donlevy as a crime kingpin rendered powerless by ambitious, cunning Conte; Helen Walker as Conte's stashed-away, troubled wife; and Helene Stanton as a tough yet tender sleazy dance hall dame. Just as much a star of this film has got to be one of the most wonderfully gritty cinematography in the history of movies: full of shadows, harsh lighting and dark recesses which serve to perfectly emphasize this world of mean streets, hard-boiled detectives, murderous thugs and gorgeous molls--all this, the previously mentioned performances, and a most unusual way to torture someone make this film-noir at its best!
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