The Big Heat

  • Directors: Fritz Lang
  • Producers: Robert Arthur
  • Writers: William P McGivern, Sydney Boehm
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller
  • Actors: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Lee Marvin

Homicide detective Sergeant Dave Bannon (Glenn Ford) is an honest cop who investigates the death of a fellow officer named Tom Duncan. It would seem to be an open-and-shut case, suicide brought on by depression, but Bannon is then contacted by the late cop’s mistress, Lucy Chapman (Dorothy Green), who claims that it could not have been suicide. From her, Bannion learns that the Duncans had a second home which would not have been possible on his salary.

Bannon visits Mrs Duncan (Jeanette Nolan) and raises the subject but she resents the implication of his suspicions. The next day Bannon gets a dressing-down by Lieutenant Ted Wilks (Willis Bouchey) who is under pressure from “upstairs” to close the case with as little grief to the widow as possible.

Chapman is later found dead after being tortured and covered with cigarette burns. Bannion sets about investigating her murder even though it is not his case or his jurisdiction. Threatening calls are then made to his home and he goes to confront Mike Lagana (Alexander Scourby), the local mob boss. It’s an open secret that Lagana runs the city, even to the point that he has cops guarding his house while his daughter hosts a party. Lagana resents Bannion’s accusations in his own home during such an event: “I’ve seen some dummies in my time, but you’re in a class by yourself.”

Stone is arrested for Marsh’s murder. When Duncan’s evidence is made public Lagana and Commissioner Higgins are indicted. Bannon returns to his job at Homicide.

The Dirty Dozen

  • Directors: Robert Aldrich
  • Producers: Kenneth Hyman
  • Writers: Novel, E M Nathanson, Screenplay, Nunnally Johnson, Lukas Heller
  • Genres: Action, Drama, War
  • Actors: Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, Charles Bronson, Jim Brown, John Cassavetes, Richard Jaeckel, George Kennedy, Trini Lopez, Ralph Meeker, Robert Ryan, Telly Savalas, Robert Webber

In England, in the spring of 1944, Allied forces are preparing for the D-Day invasion. Among them are Major John Reisman (Lee Marvin), an OSS officer; his commander, Regular Army Major General Worden (Ernest Borgnine), and his former commander Colonel Everett Dasher Breed (Robert Ryan). Early in the film the personalities of the three men are shown to clash and the character of the individualistic Reisman and the domineering Breed is established.

Major Reisman is assigned an unusual and top-secret pre-invasion mission: take twelve American soldiers convicted of capital offenses, either serving sentences of hard labor or awaiting execution, and whip them into a unit capable of carrying out the task. The plan, as described, is to infiltrate a château near Rennes, in Brittany, used as a retreat for senior Wehrmacht officers, on the eve of the invasion. Without having complete intelligence as to the identity of the guests, it was felt that the elimination of officers in the German high command or senior staff could cripple or confuse the German military’s ability to respond at the time of crisis. It is quickly established that both Reisman and the generals with whom he frequently clashes consider the mission to be a suicidal long shot.

The film concludes in a hospital room where Sgt Bowren on crutches is shown visiting Reisman and Wladislaw who are bedridden with broken bones and other serious wounds received in the battle. They are visited by the general officers, their former tormentors who sent them on this suicide mission who now have nothing but smiles and praise for the survivors. Wladislaw is heard to mutter “Oh boy… killing generals could get to be a habit with me”.

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance

  • Directors: John Ford
  • Producers: Willis Goldbeck, John Ford
  • Writers: James Warner Bellah, Willis Goldbeck, Dorothy M Johnson
  • Genres: Drama, Romance, Western
  • Actors: John Wayne, James Stewart, Lee Marvin, Lee Van Cleef

The film opens on preparations for a funeral. A U.S. Senator and his wife have come back to the small town of Shinbone, in an unnamed Western state. The senator is prevailed upon by a newspaper editor to explain why he has come to bury an apparent nobody. The senator explains and the film unfolds in flashback, to a time before the railroad came to Shinbone, to when the region was a western territory and statehood was the pressing issue.

Ransom “Rance” Stoddard (James Stewart) is an attorney who believes in law and order, but refuses to carry a gun. Robbed and violently attacked on his way to town by Liberty Valance (Lee Marvin), an outlaw with a silver-handled whip, Stoddard is brought to town by a man named Tom Doniphon, who brings the injured stranger to the care of friends in town.

Doniphon (John Wayne) is a rancher, who believes there is no law and one “needs a gun in these parts.” Doniphon feels that Stoddard is a hopeless tenderfoot who is unable to handle himself in the kind of fights that are common in the West. Stoddard in return cannot understand Doniphon’s thinking, which is exactly like Liberty Valance’s — might makes right. Caught in between is Hallie (Vera Miles), a woman widely regarded to be the love of Doniphon’s life.

The movie ends with Senator Stoddard and Hallie returning to Washington by train, melancholy about the lie that led to their prosperous life. Stoddard asks a conductor how long it will take to get to Washington. The conductor tells them that the train is traveling at high speed and that at an upcoming junction they are holding the express train for him. “Nothing’s too good,” he says, “for the man who shot Liberty Valance.”