The Big Combo

A down-and-dirty cop is obsessed with stopping a powerful mobster in this remarkable classic film noir.
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Format:  DVD-R
item number:  ALP 4527D
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The Big Combo for $12.70

DVD Features:

  • Rated: Not Rated
  • Run Time: 1 hours, 24 minutes
  • Video: Black & White
  • Released: March 11, 2005
  • Originally Released: 1955
  • Label: Alpha Video
  • Encoding: Region 0 (Worldwide)
  • Audio:
    • (unspecified) - English

Performers, Cast and Crew:

Starring &
Performer: , , , , , , &
Directed by
Edited by
Screenwriting by
Composition by
Produced by
Director of Photography:

Entertainment Reviews:


Total Count: 13


User Ratings: 2,198
Rating: B -- Conte is convincing as the maniacal hood, while Wilde is a good counter-balance to Conte. Full Review
Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Aug 15, 2001
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. Full Review
Jan 25, 2008
Shadows and lies are the stars of The Big Combo, a spellbinding black-and-white chiaroscuro with the segmented texture of a spider's web.
Slant Magazine
May 1, 2006
Rating: 3/5 -- Strong noir with sadistic flashes
Film Journal International
Jun 13, 2005
Rating: 3/4 -- A fatalistic symphony of light and shade. Full Review
TV Guide
Jan 25, 2008
A pond of shifting alliances and kinks Full Review
Oct 18, 2009
Where the usual noir takes place in a nightmare world, this one seems to inhabit a dream: there's no longer fear in the images, but rather a distanced, idealized beauty. Full Review
Chicago Reader
Jan 25, 2008

Description by

Joseph H. Lewis' masterpiece, The Big Combo, stands alongside Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity, Edgar G. Ulmer's Detour and Fritz Lang's The Big Heat as one of the truly great film noir classics. This dark film is an unrelenting and tormented catalogue of savage violence, grotesquely black irony and dangerously obsessed sexuality.

Police detective Leonard Diamond (Cornel Wilde) has two dangerous obsessions. He's on a reckless, hell-bent crusade to bring down smooth and sadistic gangster, Mr. Brown (Richard Conte) and wracked by insatiable desire for good-girl-gone-wrong Susan Lowell (Jean Wallace), Brown's captive lover. In mortal terror, Susan is helpless to escape from the lust-filled nightmare of her life. Meanwhile, Brown's lieutenant-in-crime, McClure (Brian Donlevy) plots with cruel hoods Fante (Lee Van Cleef) and Mingo (Earl Holliman) to overthrow their boss. In Brown's unforgiving world, however, defection and disloyalty are punishable by cruel and unusual death.

Photographed by legendary master of sinister shadows, John Alton (I, the Jury; He Walked By Night; The Lady and the Monster), The Big Combo is shocking and hard-boiled Hollywood noir, and not for the faint of heart.

Product Description:

Shocking cruelty and explosive performances by Wilde and Conte make this a favorite of film-noir cultists. The plot revolves around Wilde's determination to smash the rackets with the help of the gang boss' ex-girlfriend. As in this outing, director Lewis's deft use of low budgets made him a critical favorite.


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Movie Lovers' Ratings & Reviews:

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The Big Combo Movie Lover: from Winnipeg, Canada -- October, 1, 2005

What a classic noir thriller!

This crime gem features an amazing performance of unbridled sadism by the great Richard Conte as syndicate head Mr. Brown. Conte was one of cinema's best yet underrated tough guys, and in "The Big Combo" he really shines. It is without question his best gangster role. Brian Donlevy likewise turns in a super performance, a complex role as the despicable yet oddly sympathetic one-time Combination big shot, now reduced to playing Conte's "yes man".

As gangster films go, "The Big Combo" is at the top of the list - providing a dark, perverse storyline featuring a determined but flawed hero (Cornel Wilde), a troubled dame (Jean Wallace) who is the object of Wilde's obsession, and two mob enforcers (Lee Van Cleef and Earl Holliman) who share more than a little affection between them. Rounding out the cast is Robert Middleton, adding authority in one of his rare good guy roles.

The film is highlighted by many memorable scenes and innuendos that were considered quite daring for the time.

Director Joseph H. Lewis was a master of the crime genre, having previously helmed the classic "Gun Crazy" (1950). But I feel that "The Big Combo" stands as his best work, as it certainly oversteps the cliches often found in crime dramas - even in its depiction of cop vs. hood.

Brutal, taut and exciting, "The Big Combo" is a must for all fans of film noir!

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Product Info

  • Sales Rank: 9,190
  • UPC: 089218452795
  • Shipping Weight: 0.25/lbs (approx)
  • International Shipping: 1 item

Film Collectors & Archivists: Alpha Video is actively looking for rare and unusual pre-1943 motion pictures, in good condition, from Monogram, PRC, Tiffany, Chesterfield, and other independent studios for release on DVD. We are also interested in TV shows from the early 1950s. Share your passion for films with a large audience. Let us know what you have.
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