The Big Heat

1953 film by Fritz Lang

The Big Heat is a 1953 American film noir about a cop who takes on the crime syndicate that controls his city after the brutal murder of his beloved wife.

Directed by Fritz Lang. Written by Sidney Boehm, based on a Saturday Evening Post serial (later published as a novel) by William P. McGivern.
Somebody's going to pay ...because he forgot to kill me...taglines

Debby Marsh

  • I guess the scar isn't so bad, not if it's only on one side. I can always go through life sideways.
  • (inspecting Bannion's cheap hotel room) "I like this. Early Nothing."


Lt. Ted Wilks: It was bad judgment to bother a cop's widow about the love life of her husband.
Dave Bannion: Good or bad, it was my judgment.
Lt. Ted Wilks: You're missing the point. I'm the one that gets the pressure calls from upstairs. I'm the one that has to explain. You don't keep an office like this very long stepping on a lot of corns.
Dave Bannion: You want me to go upstairs and explain?
Lt. Ted Wilks: Not you. You're a corn stepper by instinct.

Tierney: All any of these dames owe me is a night's work, one night at a time. They come and go like flies.
Dave Bannion: [about Lucy Chapman] Only this fly got herself strangled.
Tierney: These things, happen, Sergeant. Outside of my place, some of these babes keep pretty shady company. It figures. They know nobody cares much what happens to 'em.
Dave Bannion: Where'd she live?
Tierney: If I ask for an address, they lie. It's not worth the bother. They're floaters. Not much more than a suitcase full of nothin' between them and the gutter.
Dave Bannion: Hey, you know somethin'? You ought to be doin' radio commercials - how to talk a lot and say nothin'.

Mike Lagana: You came here to my home about a murder?...This is my home and I don't like dirt tracked into it.
Dave Bannion: I see. And I've violated your immaculate home, is that it?
Mike Lagana: That's exactly it. And tomorrow morning, I'll see you don't get the chance to do it again.
Dave Bannion: What'll you do? Make another phone call? Or have somebody make it for ya?
Mike Lagana: I've seen some dummies in my time, but you're in a class by yourself.
Dave Bannion: I'm stupid, because I want some answers about a murder, is that it?
Mike Lagana: Shut up and get out.
Dave Bannion: We don't talk about those things in this house, do we? No, it's too elegant, too respectable. Nice kids - party - painting of Mama up there on the wall. No place for a stinkin' cop! It's only a place for a hoodlum who built this house out of twenty years of corruption and murder. I'm gonna tell you something. You know, you couldn't plant enough flowers around here to kill the smell...Cops have homes too, only sometimes there isn't enough money to pay the rent because a cop gets hounded off the force by your thievin' cockroaches for tryin' to do an honest job. What's the matter? Do you think I live under a rock or something? Your creeps have no compunction about phoning my house, giving me orders, talking to my wife like she was a ... [explodes and beats up Lagana's bodyguard]

Katie Bannion: Your big trouble, honey, is that you attack yourself from all sides like Jersey mosquitos. You don't want to quit the department, not for one minute.
Dave Bannion: What am I supposed to do? Hold on to my job by just stringin' along, afraid to look to the left or to the right because I might see something that they don't want me to see?
Katie Bannion: You do, you're gonna have trouble from me. You just keep leading with your chin and don't you compromise!
Dave Bannion: That's what I wanted to hear you say. [He kisses her] Thanks, Inspector.
Katie Bannion: Honey?
Dave Bannion: Hmm, hmm.
Katie Bannion: If I tell you something, you won't laugh.
Dave Bannion: I won't laugh.
Katie Bannion: I love you.
Dave Bannion: You see, I'm not laughing.

Vince Stone: Hey, that's nice perfume.
Debby Marsh: Something new. It attracts mosquitoes and repels men.
Vince Stone: It doesn't work that way with me.
Debby Marsh: It's not supposed to.
[She gives him a teasing kiss]

Dave Bannion: Look, I've had a belly full of the department and Wilks - and you.
Gus Burke: You've decided people are all scared rabbits and you spit on 'em...No man's an island, Dave. You can't set yourself against the world and get away with it.

Debby Marsh: Most times, it's a lot of fun, expensive fun...He can be a pretty good guy, and then other times he can be - but why kick, you gotta take the bad with the good.
Dave Bannion: Is the good good enough?
Debby Marsh: Clothes, travel, expensive excitement, what's wrong with that?
Dave Bannion: Nothing, if you don't care where his money comes from.
Debby Marsh: The main thing is to have the money. I've been rich and I've been poor. Believe me, rich is better.

Debby Marsh: I'd just stop the cross-examination. I didn't come up here to talk out of school.
Dave Bannion: Why did you come up?
Debby Marsh: Well, why don't we call it research or something?
Dave Bannion: Or to needle Stone.
Debby Marsh: Oh, well, you're about as romantic as a pair of handcuffs. Didn't you ever tell a girl pretty things? You know, she's got hair like the west wind, eyes like limpid pools, skin like velvet...?
Dave Bannion: [He turns away from her] I'll put you in a cab.
Debby Marsh: Did I say something wrong?
Dave Bannion: No.
Debby Marsh: I must have broken one of the house rules. Do you really want me to go?
Dave Bannion: I wouldn't touch anything of Vince Stone's with a ten foot pole.
Debby Marsh: That's a rotten thing to say.

Bertha Duncan: Did Mr. Stone send you?
Debby Marsh: No. I've been thinking about you and me, how much alike we are. The mink-coated girls.
Bertha Duncan: I don't understand you. What are you here for, Miss Marsh?
Debby Marsh: Debby - we should use first names, Bertha. We're sisters under the mink.
Bertha Duncan: You're not making any sense, Miss Marsh. I'd better call Mr. Stone and have him pick you up. You're not well.
Debby Marsh: I never felt better in my life! [shoots Bertha]


  • Somebody's going to pay ...because he forgot to kill me...
  • A hard cop and a soft dame!


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