Re: RARA-AVIS: THE BIG HEAT (was "CriminalConversation" in the PARIS REVIEW Crime issue, #164)

Date: 29 Mar 2003


Re your comment below:

> I'm sorry to say that Bannion, in THE BIG HEAT, has
> lost his wife. I'm
> happy to say that he has quit his job in order to
> devote himself fulltime to
> some serious ass-kicking. Really excellent writing.
> It's one of those
> books
> that's hard to put down.

If you like the book, allow me to recommend the film version. Very faithful to the novel (except that the city is changed from Philadelphia to the fictional metropolis of "Kenport," and for some reason the second-in-command mobster, Max Stone, becomes "Vince" Stone). Glenn Ford, in his best performance, plays Bannion. Jocelyn Brando (Marlon's sis) is his wife. Gloria Grahame is Stone's mistress, Debby. Stone is expertly played by Lee Marvin (his first big movie role). And Alexander Scourby plays mob kingpin Lagana, whose pretence to culture and breeding always seemed to me to prefigure Marlon Brando's (who undoubtedly saw the film since his sister was in it) characterization of Don Corleone in THE GODFATHER.

Noir pioneer Fritz Lang directed from a script by former police reporter Sidney Boehm. Tops in all respects.


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