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  • The Big Combo (Cinema Deluxe)
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The Big Combo (Cinema Deluxe)

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The Big Combo (Cinema Deluxe) + Nightmare Alley (1947) (Bilingual) + Road House (1948) (Fox Film Noir)
Price For All Three: CDN$ 37.58

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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: Nov. 1 2005
  • Run Time: 84 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000B7QCT0
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #49,319 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

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

Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mad Dog on June 24 2002
Format: DVD
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 Deal") photographs, and the cast includes Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Brian Donlevy, and the young Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman.
Film students take note:
There's obviously no money to spare here: the sets are all recycled from other B-pictures. What's impressive is how Lewis uses the same locations for multiple shots without and significant re-setting, he keeps his angles down and holds the long take. Alton helps with the right atmosphere and his wonderfully graphic compositions, and the cast get on board for the ride. You can almost see another "Gun Crazy" or "Raw Deal" emerging.
But the script is awful. In B-Movies, "Talk Is Cheap" - much cheaper than action, or scene changes. That's why Reservoir Dogs spends so much time in a warehouse (the similarities don't end there: in a scene of remarkable brutality Wilde is taped to a chair and tortured via a hearing air placed near his EAR!). But one of the problems with shooting few locations fast, is you need the dialog to fill the scenes.
It's just not here. The speeches (there isn't any conversation here, just hard-line pronouncements) are all tough-guy cliché: "he's the kind guy that blah blah blah, and blah blah, but blah blah, because mark my words, blah blah". They're not very good and they always go on for a few sentences -- or a page -- too long. Someone's always trying to stretch the analogy, or extend a metaphor, or get with the poetry of the streets. Nothing they say has anything to do with character. This the kind of juvenile dialog that turns up in parodies of old noire B-pics.
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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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