Film Noir 2023
Screening Dates
  • August 5, 2023 6:30
  • August 10, 2023 6:30
35mm Print

A film structured by viciousness and pain … It’s a dark night of several souls perfectly visualized in John Alton’s extraordinary camerawork. Even better than Lewis’s earlier—and remarkable—Gun Crazy.”

Tom Milne, Time Out

The B‑movie stylist Joseph H. Lewis is best known for the cult film and noir classic Gun Crazy; his My Name is Julia Ross and So Dark the Night have also screened in past Cinematheque noir seasons. The Big Combo, from 1955, is an excellent—and exceptionally dark and violent—late noir, demonstrating Lewis’s great flair for the genre. Cornel Wilde plays Leonard Diamond, a police detective obsessed with thwarting the relationship between sadistic crime boss Brown (Richard Conte) and young society woman Susan (Jean Wallace). When Diamond’s overzealous, extralegal methods finally push Brown too far, the mobster resolves to exact revenge—and a savage, ever-escalating vendetta plays out to a deadly end. This 35mm engagement marks a homecoming for The Big Combo, which hasn’t screened in our series since 2013.

35mm restored print courtesy of the UCLA Film & Television Archive; restoration funding provided by The Film Foundation.

A dark, insular universe of unspoken repression and graphic violence … There is a sense of fatalism and perverse sexuality found in The Big Combo that exists in few noir films.”

Carl Macek, Film Noir: The Encyclopedia

Possibly the best picture-maker in B‑movies … Lewis was the perfect noir director.”

Tom Charity, The Rough Guide to Film