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The Big Combo

This is another saga of the honest cop who lets nothing sway him from the self-appointed task of smashing a crime syndicate and its leader. It is done with grim melodramatics that are hard-hitting despite a rambling, not-too-credible plot, and is cut out to order for the meller fan who likes his action rough and raw.

With:
Cornel Wilde Richard Conte Brian Donlevy Jean Wallace Robert Middleton Lee Van Cleef

This is another saga of the honest cop who lets nothing sway him from the self-appointed task of smashing a crime syndicate and its leader. It is done with grim melodramatics that are hard-hitting despite a rambling, not-too-credible plot, and is cut out to order for the meller fan who likes his action rough and raw.

One torture scene in particular will shock the sensibilities and cause near-nausia. After honest cop Diamond (Cornel Wilde) has been tormented by gangster Brown (Richard Conte) via a hearing aid plugged in his ear while the receiver is held to a radio going full blast, the cold-blooded crook forces the contents of a large bottle of hair tonic down the victim’s throat.

Even after Wilde has been subjected to the indignities by Conte and his strongarm boys (Brian Donlevy, Lee Van Cleef, Earl Holliman), pic has you believe he still can’t bring the hood to justice. In addition to his desire to get Conte, Wilde also has a desire for the crook’s girlfriend Susan (Jean Wallace) but it takes some doing to get her to escape the gangster.

Performances are in keeping with the bare-knuckle direction by Joseph Lewis and, on that score, are good. Low-key photography by John Alton and a noisy, jazzy score by David Raksin [with solo piano by Jacob Gimpel] are in keeping with the film’s tough mood.

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The Big Combo

Production: Security/Theodora. Director Joseph H. Lewis; Producer Sidney Harmon; Screenplay Philip Yordan; Camera John Alton; Editor Robert Eisen; Music David Raksin; Art Director Rudi Feld

Crew: (B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1955. Running time: 86 MIN.

With: Cornel Wilde Richard Conte Brian Donlevy Jean Wallace Robert Middleton Lee Van Cleef

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