Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Big Combo (1955)

Why is it that most "forgotten classics," once exposed to the light of day, seem like their disappearance was justfiable? Case in point: This stodgy B-noir, which has a reputation that may have been inflated by people who remember Brian Donleavy's death scene and not much else. There's no other reason to latch onto this flick, which tries so hard to be hard-boiled that it approaches hard-to-swallow levels (the dialogue, especially, teeters on the wrong edge of self-parody). The low-energy direction does no favors, either -- by keeping his setups flat-footed and failing to properly instruct his actors on how to do "noir" (the lead's a square-jawed square), Joseph H. Lewis ends up with an uninspired time-waster that fairly screams 'tee-vee'. I understand that not everybody can summon up, say, the fevered intensity of Edgar G. Ulmar, but come on. This is about as convincing as Bugsy Malone.

Grade: C


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