The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open. Visit our snack bar for a fizzy beverage and a big bag of popcorn. Tonight’s feature is THE BIG COMBO, starring Cornel Wilde, Richard Conte, Richard Donlevy, and Jean Wallace.
The Big Combo is a rather unique entry for its genre due to its frank sexuality, extreme sadism and John Alton’s stunning black and white cinematography that places the story in a world of shadows, spotlights and claustrophobic lighting schemes.
At the center of the story is Lt. Diamond (Cornel Wilde), a cynical cop who has become obsessed with arresting Mr. Brown (Richard Conte), the head of a powerful crime syndicate who has cleverly eluded the authorities for years. Diamond’s motivation, however, is clearly driven by his attraction to Brown’s blonde mistress, Susan (Jean Wallace, the wife of Cornel Wilde), a former socialite and once promising pianist whose relationship with Brown is a mixture of sexual dependency and masochism. Aiding Brown in his operation is Joe McClure (Brian Donlevy), a defeated rival who now serves as his second-in-command, and a pair of hit men, Fante (Lee Van Cleef) and Mingo (Earl Holliman), who are inseparable, bound together by their blood lust.
Welcome! The lobby of the Deranged L.A. Crimes theater is open! Grab a bucket of popcorn, some Milk Duds and a Coke and find a seat. Tonight’s feature is LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN, directed by John Stahl and starring Gene Tierney, Cornel Wilde, Jeanne Crain and Vincent Price.
The film begins with novelist Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde) returning to his remote island home Back of the Moon after two years in prison. His approach there dissolves to an extended flashback running almost the entire duration of the film narrated by Harland’s friend and attorney (Ray Collins). Through him we see how Richard meets beautiful socialite Ellen Berent (Gene Tierney) on a train. She falls in love with him based mainly on his close resemblance to her recently deceased father, to whom she was obsessively attached.
Ellen is already engaged to an ambitious Boston attorney (Vincent Price), but she jilts him and rapidly marries Richard, who at first is fascinated not only with Ellen’s beauty but her exotic and intense manner. It gradually becomes apparent however that Ellen is pathologically jealous towards any other person and activity that her husband cares about.
This is an incredible film, and one of my favorites. Enjoy the movie!