The Big Combo (1955)

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  •  (3 out of 5 stars)

The Big Combo certainly looks like a classic film noir with John Alton's magnificent black and white cinematography. Cornel Wilde plays police lieutenant Leonard Diamond who has been on a case for three years trying to bring down crime boss Mr. Brown played by Richard Conte. The film noir style carries most of the movie, along with David Raksin's brassy score. The script does get routine and bogged down in one interrogation scene after another. Richard Conte's performance as Mr. Brown is the highlight as the tough crime boss who they can never seem to get any evidence on. And Jean Wallace plays Mr. Brown's beautiful blonde girlfriend who Lieutenant Diamond is obsessed with. In terms of film noir elements it's all here, but it's not nearly as good as Fritz Lang's The Big Heat (1953). The standout scene where Mr. Brown tortures Diamond by blasting music into his ear through a hearing aid seems to have inspired the Mr. Blonde ear-cutting torture scene in Reservoir Dogs (1992).

The Big Combo is a 1955 American film noir directed by Joseph H. Lewis and photographed by cinematographer John Alton, with music by David Raksin. The film stars Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte and Brian Donlevy, as well as Jean Wallace, who was Wilde's wife at the time. It also included the final screen appearance of actress Helen Walker.

Critics have compared the quality of The Big Combo to Fritz Lang's The Big Heat as one of the great film noir detective classics in terms of style. It is also considered as one of the best work of legendary cinematographer John Alton.

(Summary from Wikipedia)

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