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The Big Combo

1955 Police captain Peterson (Robert Middleton) storms into the office of police Lt. Leonard Diamond (Cornel Wilde) critical of Diamond's spending exorbitant amounts of the city budget and his own personal money in an attempt to arrest a crime boss Mr. Brown (Richard Conte). Peterson says it is a waste of time trying to find something incriminating to bring Mr. Brown to justice because his crime combo does business without accounting books, and furthermore Peterson says Diamond's actual motivation is Diamond's love for Brown's girlfriend Susan Lowell (Jean Wallace). Susan is attended to at all time by Brown's thugs Mingo (Earl Holliman) and Fante (Lee Van Cleef). Seemingly drawn to Brown through his ability to inflict pain, she seems kidnapped and yet willingly waits for Brown's brutal attentions. Attempting suicide she overdoses on pills, and utters the name "Alicia" as Diamond attends to her in the hospital. Believing this may be Brown's wife Diamond follows up on this new lead, but Brown captures and tortures Diamond and delivers him back to his boss Peterson attempting to make diamond appear drunk. Meanwhile Joe McClure (Brian Donlevy)..... Download and find out

The Big Combo is a 1955 American film noir directed by Joseph H. Lewis (director) and photographed by cinematographer John Alton, with music by David Raksin.<>.</>


Police Lt. Leonard Diamond is on a personal crusade to bring down sadistic gangster Mr. Brown. He's also dangerously obsessed with Brown's girlfriend, the suicidal Susan Lowell. His main objective as a detective is to uncover what happened to a woman called "Alicia" from the crime boss's past.
Mr. Brown, his second-in-command McClure and thugs Fante and Mingo kidnap and torture the lieutenant, then pour a bottle of alcohol-based hair tonic down his throat before letting him go. Diamond eventually learns through one of Brown's past accomplices that Alicia was actually Brown's wife. The accomplice suspects that Alicia was sent away to Sicily with former mob boss Grazzi, then murdered, tied to the boat's anchor and permanently submerged.
Diamond questions a Swede named Dreyer, who was the skipper of that boat (but now operates an antiques store as a front, bankrolled by Brown). Dreyer denies involvement, but this doesn't prevent him from being murdered by McClure within seconds after he leaves the shop.
Diamond tries to persuade Susan to leave Brown and admits he might be in love with her. He shows her a photo of Brown, Alicia and Grazzi together on the boat. Susan finally confronts Brown about his wife and is told she is still alive in Sicily, Italy, living with Grazzi.
Brown next orders a hit on Diamond. However, when his gunmen Fante and Mingo go to Diamond's apartment, they mistakenly shoot and kill the cop's burlesque dancer girlfriend Rita instead. Diamond sees an up-to-date photo of Alicia but realizes it wasn't taken in Sicily (since there's snow on the ground). This leads Diamond to suspect Brown didn't kill Alicia but his boss Grazzi instead. Diamond is able to track Alicia to a sanitarium, where she is staying under another name. He asks for her help.
Brown's right-hand man, McClure, wants to take over. He plots with Fante and Mingo to ambush Mr. Brown, but ends up getting killed himself because they are loyal to the boss.
At police headquarters, Brown shows up with a writ of habeas corpus, effectively preventing Alicia to testify against her husband. Brown also brings a big stash of "money" to Fante and Mingo while they are hiding out from the police, but the box turns out to contain a bomb that apparently kills both.
Brown shoots the lieutenant's partner Sam and kidnaps Susan, planning to fly away to safety. Diamond finds a witness that could finally nail the elusive gangster—Mingo, who survived the blast and confesses that Brown was behind it all. Alicia is able to help Diamond figure out where Brown was likely to take Susan, a private airport where Brown intends to board a getaway plane.
However, the plane doesn't show up and the film climaxes in a foggy airplane hangar shootout. Susan shines a bright light in Brown's eyes and the lieutenant places him under arrest. The last scene shows the silhouetted figures of Diamond and Susan in the fog, considered to be one of the iconic images of film noir.


  • Cornel Wilde as Police Lt. Leonard Diamond
  • Richard Conte as Mr. Brown
  • Brian Donlevy as Joe McClure
  • Jean Wallace as Susan Lowell
  • Robert Middleton as Police Capt. Peterson
  • Lee Van Cleef as Fante
  • Earl Holliman as Mingo
  • Helen Walker as Alicia Brown
  • Jay Adler as Sam Hill
  • John Hoyt as Nils Dreyer
  • Ted de Corsia as Bettini


=Critical response=

Reviews of the movie today are mostly positive. Chris Dashiell on the website CineScene finds the dialogue "run of the mill" but praises the film's director, writing that "Lewis had a remarkable ability to infuse poetry into the most banal material, and The Big Combo is one of his best efforts... it's not as startlingly inventive as Lewis's best film, Gun Crazy (1949), but it's a quality B-film, satisfying and dark."

In popular culture

The twin brothers Fante and Mingo from the movie
  • The Big Combo at Images Journal
  • The Big Combo] title sequence at

    Category:1955 films
    Category:1950s thriller films
    Category:American films
    Category:American crime thriller films
    Category:Black-and-white films
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Film noir
    Category:Films about organized crime in the United States
    Category:Films directed by Joseph H. Lewis
    Category:Police detective films
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