HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Letter from Paris
Behind the Mask
Lucky
Matrix, The
Undergods
Betrayed
Fried Barry
Once Upon a River
Cowboys
Atlantis
We Still Say Grace
Enfant Terrible
Nomadland
Playboy of the Western World, The
Bike Thief, The
Threshold
Virtuoso, The
Here are the Young Men
Beast Beast
Labyrinth of Cinema
Justice Society: World War II
Artist's Wife, The
Truman & Tennessee: An Intimate Conversation
Pusher III
Palm Springs
Devil Commands, The
Oak Room, The
Pusher II
Forget Everything and Run
Secrets & Lies
Red Moon Tide
Man with Nine Lives, The
Pusher
Pot Carriers, The
Black Bear
Don't Cry, Pretty Girls!
Portal
Me You Madness
Reckoning, The
Laddie: The Man Behind the Movies
   
 
Newest Articles
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes 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 5776 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 probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: