HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Watch List
Giraffe
Kat and the Band
Echo
Perfect 10
Octaman
Red Penguins
China Syndrome, The
Babyteeth
Round-Up, The
Around the Sun
Once There Was Brasilia
Peripheral
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
Ice
She Demons
Good Girls, The
Hail, Hero!
Faces in the Crowd
Tamango
Traitor, The
Tomorrow
Third Generation, The
Saxon Charm, The
Spy Intervention
Moonrise
Mulan
Killer with a Thousand Eyes, The
Vigil, The
Liberation of L.B. Jones, The
Wizard of Baghdad, The
Ride
Good Manners
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Sweet Home
Big Score, The
Siddhartha
Three Outlaw Samurai
Echoes of Fear
Guinea Pig, The
   
 
Newest Articles
For God's Sake Strap Yourselves Down: Flash Gordon on 4K UHD Collector's Edition
Party Hard: Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Nights in with ABC 2 - Your Faces are All Blurred!
Eve Knew Her Apples: The Lady Eve on Blu-ray
Network On Air: Tempo - Gallery One
Network On Air: Nights In with ABC 1 - Welcome Once Again to Manchester!
Transformative Apocalypses: Phase IV and Southland Tales
The Happiest Days of Their Lives: The Guinea Pig on Blu-ray
Faced Poe: Three Edgar Allan Poe Adaptations Starring Bela Lugosi on Blu-ray
Hard Luck, Buster: The Cameraman on Blu-ray
At the Hop: Mr. Vampire on Blu-ray
Divine Madness: Female Trouble on Blu-ray
Country Matters: Further Out of Town on Blu-ray
Bat-Damn: Was Joel Schumacher's Batman Really That Bad?
The Beat Goes On: Takeshi Kitano Collection on Blu-ray
Dream Treats: Scorsese Shorts on Blu-ray
It's Only Money: Laughter in Paradise on Blu-ray
A Regular Terpsichore: Dance, Girl, Dance on Blu-ray
Teenage Trauma: Baby Love on Blu-ray
The Happening: Pet Shop Boys It Couldn't Happen Here on Blu-ray
Who Watched The Watchmen?
The Golden Age of Colonic Irrigation: Monty Python Series 4 on Blu-ray
Lady of Pleasure: Lola Montes on Blu-ray
Take You to the Gay Bar: Funeral Parade of Roses on Blu-ray
Hit for Ms: Mark Cousins' Women Make Film on Blu-ray
   
 
  Big Combo, The Magnificent Obsessions
Year: 1955
Director: Joseph H. Lewis
Stars: Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Jean Wallace, Brian Donlevy, Robert Middleton, Lee Van Cleef, Earl Holliman, Helen Walker, Jay Adler, John Hoyt, Ted de Corsia, Helene Stanton, Roy Gordon, Whit Bissell, Steve Mitchell
Genre: ThrillerBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: A blonde young woman, Susan Lowell (Jean Wallace), is running through corridors away from the boxing match she's been attending and there are two men pursuing her. When they catch up with her they tell her that their boss, Mr Brown (Richard Conte), insists that she be taken back to see the rest of the match, but she asks to be taken home. Meanwhile, Police Lieutenant Leonard Diamond (Cornel Wilde) is deep in thought over his attempts to bring Brown to justice; he knows that Brown is a big shot gangster, but too clever to be caught. His Captain, Peterson (Robert Middleton) tells him he shouldn't let this have such a hold over him, as he's spending too much public money on it, but it's no use - Diamond is determined to save Susan from Brown, for, like Brown, he's in love with her...

One of the last film noirs of the fifties, The Big Combo sets itself up as a "breaking the crime ring" thriller, but as it progresses it's more a study in obsessions, with the two leading characters consumed with their passion for one woman, one good, one evil. Ably directed by B-movie thriller expert Joseph H. Lewis, it was written by Philip Yordan, author of other cult movies such as Dillinger and Johnny Guitar, and like those films gains colour in its story by its verging-on-the-weird characters. Here, even the smallest roles can be distinctive, although it's the main protagonists that take the lion's share of neuroses.

Susan is strangely sickly, never more so when near the start of the film she takes an overdose of pills and passes out on the dance floor. She can't stand being Brown's girlfriend and will resort to suicide to be free of him, but Wallace's enervated performance runs through the whole story, making the two men's adoration of her seem strangely sickly too (the film should have been shot in shades of green for maximum effect). Brown has replaced the man at the top, Grazzi, and Diamond wants to see him behind bars, but this is one of those cop movies where the baddie can get up to all sorts and never be touched by the long arm of the law until the very end.

While in her overdose-induced delirium, Susan repeats the same name over and over again, "Alicia", and Diamond believes this to be a clue that will secure him a conviction. However, frustratingly nobody will tell him who Alicia is, not even Susan when she comes round, so he brings Brown in for questioning under a minor charge. This film likes its technology, so not only does Diamond have his case recorded on reel to reel tape, but also he likes to use a lie detector on Brown. With his responses to random and not-so-random words, it's clear that Brown knows something about Alicia, but he bluffs his way through the interview and has to be released.

The cinematography was courtesy of John Alton, a master of his art, and the deep shadows here are among the darkest in the movies. Working on a low budget, his innovations include creating the illusion of an airport simply by putting a revolving lamp on a pole and adding some mist, which works perfectly. Another thing that The Big Combo is famous for is its sleaziness, with a torture scene conducted with the use of a hearing aid and a radio, and a surprisingly explicit - for its day - oral sex scene. Brown's henchmen include the bitter man who wanted his job, McClure (Brian Donlevy), and two gay hoodlums, played by Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman - er, and that's about it. We largely have to take Brown's influence as read, and why doesn't he have a Italian name when he's obviously Mafia? Conte portrays him with clipped and dapper menace, an excellent contrast to Wilde's plodding, sorry for himself lieutenant, and all the psychological angst here would keep Freud in business for years. Jazzy music by David Raksin.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 5404 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 

Joseph H. Lewis  (1907 - 2000)

Dependable American B-movie director who turned his hand to westerns (Terror in a Texas Town) and horrors (Invisible Ghost) but was especially good at thrillers: My Name is Julia Ross, So Dark the Night, The Big Combo among them. His most celebrated film is the "Bonnie and Clyde"-inspired Gun Crazy. He left the movies to become a television director in the 1950s.

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Paul Smith
Andrew Pragasam
  Lee Fiveash
  Mick Stewart
Enoch Sneed
  Dsfgsdfg Dsgdsgsdg
   

 

Last Updated: