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The Big Combo1955

  • 3.8
A gripping gangster movie starring Cornel Wilde as the tenacious cop determined to bring down a ruthless and sadistic mobster played by Richard Conte. Often overlooked, this movie is a fine example of the evocative film noir style that became so popular during the 40s and 50s. John Alton's stylistic photography creates an atmosphere of harsh gritty reality that draws the viewer into a sordid underworld of crime, greed and murder.

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2 members like this review

What is a movie, really, other than sights and sounds? With Robert Alton as DP and David Raksin as composer, The Big Combo delivers both. As to the script, the directing, and the acting, you really have to be in the right mood. They all add up here to the most melodramatic way of saying crime just don't pay after all, not an original idea, but along the way there are visual and audial delights that can only come from great photography and scoring. Shown on the big screen at the Hollywood Bowl with a symphony orchestra playing the score, The Big Combo would stand tall, even if the crowd jeered the dialogue. The pictures and the music tell the story here from the first frame to the last. Two masters were at work.

Member Reviews (6)

What is a movie, really, other than sights and sounds? With Robert Alton as DP and David Raksin as composer, The Big Combo delivers both. As to the script, the directing, and the acting, you really have to be in the right mood. They all add up here to the most melodramatic way of saying crime just don't pay after all, not an original idea, but along the way there are visual and audial delights that can only come from great photography and scoring. Shown on the big screen at the Hollywood Bowl with a symphony orchestra playing the score, The Big Combo would stand tall, even if the crowd jeered the dialogue. The pictures and the music tell the story here from the first frame to the last. Two masters were at work.

2 members like this review

"First is First and Second is Nobody." I'm fairly new to Fandor, but this is the best Film Noir I have seen on the streaming service so far. Excellent acting and casting, a good story and beautiful atmospheric cinematography that exposes the gritty underworld of organized crime.

Brown and Diamond are opposite sides of the same coin. Both fearless and determined to get what they want at any cost. Cornel Wilde blazes the trail for later rogue cop descendants like Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry pentalogy.

Some of the best actors of the day are included in the cast.

Twilight Zone fans will recognize:

Richard Conte from Perchance to Dream.

Earl Holliman from Where is Everybody?

John Hoyt from Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

This Slam-Bang 1950’s Gangbuster also serves as a bit of an archeological template for the Rogue Cop movies of the 70’s and 80’s, as Cornel Wilde takes on "The Syndicate," all by his lonesome. Richard Conte steals the show as the sly-slimey “Mr. Big," and Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman stand out as the hitmen with a very special relationship. John Alton’s cinematography towers above all, a testimony of a Hollywood craftsman who truly could paint with light and shadow. Hit the sirens and step on it!

This film is generally so well-regarded and I've never understood why. The story is an unnecessarily convoluted mess. It needs editing, in my opinion. The cinematography is outstanding, though.

A very worthwhile film noir, with an added twist or two not often seen (SPOILER such as the aforementioned relationship between two of the criminals which is either sexual or perhaps a George and Lennie manner of friendship).

One of the great film noirs.