Lee Van Cleef

THE BIG COMBO (1955)

The Big Combo 1955

Sometimes the girl on a gangster’s arm is more important than the billfold in his pocket. Nothing is truer in the world of Mr. Brown, a somber, carnal crook who gets off on owning Susan Lowell, a stunning blonde who’s essentially held captive by Brown. Sniffing at Brown’s polished heels is persistent flatfoot Leonard Diamond. While he insists he’s spending the tax payers’ money to take down Brown’s big “combination,” it’s really his overwhelming lust for Susan that’s driving him. The Big Combo is director Joseph H. Lewis’ other masterpiece (alongside Gun Crazy). While on the surface it may seem like a pretty straightforward gangster flick, this bad bitch is a potent brew of cruelty and sex.

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KANSAS CITY CONFIDENTIAL (1952)

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Phil Karlson’s Kansas City Confidential is a two-fisted revenge flick that’s a feast for fans of hardboiled dialogue and an essential in the annals of noir. The film cleverly unravels the “perfect crime” motif – one in which the heist is allegedly snitch-proof because the hoods don’t know the identity of each other or the cat who planned the shindig. Karlson’s sharp directing anchors the film, which features one tough lineup of hoods: Neville Brand, Lee Van Cleef, and Jack Elam. Top it off with John Payne as an embittered fall guy and Kansas City Confidential is a fucking powder keg of a noir (that ironically takes place mainly in Mexico).

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