Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Joseph H. Lewis' "The Big Combo" (1955)
The Big Combo is a gritty and dark film noir that is pushed above the level of average by its incredible style. This film is a prime example of the film noir genre. While the story's plot is nothing extraordinary, the way it's told visually makes it just that. John Alton, the cinematographer behind it all, is who to thank. He turned this films backdrop into a smokey, foggy, dirty, shadow heavy and dark world of crime, passion, and lust.
Cornel Wilde plays a never give up detective set on destroying a big mobsters world, played by Richard Conte. Both are very good in their dueling roles. Neither character ends up being as memorable as some others in the genre, but that's all forgotten once the viewer gets their eyes on this film. As I mentioned earlier, it's a stunning film in terms of visuals. Right from start to finish this film is covered in black.
With all this talk about visuals it's hard to forget that there's also a very talented director behind the camera to go along with Alton's awesome eye for noir. Joseph H. Lewis perfectly portrayed his characters as the obsessed, determined, and revengeful people that they were. Even though I did say before that the characters themselves aren't as memorable as some others in the genre, they're still very well portrayed and characterized.
If you're looking to get into noir, The Big Combo would be a good place to start for visuals. As far as the rest of the genre's well known elements, you might look elsewhere. Wilde and Conte are good, but they aren't Bogart or Mitchum good.
4.5 OUT OF 5 STARS