Human Desire (1954) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: Jeff Warren, a Korean War vet just returning to his railroad engineer's job, boards at the home of co-worker Alec Simmons and is charmed by Alec's beautiful daughter. Vicki Buckley is the sultry wife of brutish railroad supervisor Carl Buckley, an alcoholic wife beater with a hair trigger temper… Runtime: 91 min Release Date: 03 Nov 1954
Unlike most of the reviews here, I see this films as a treatise on broken and betrayed love.First there is the innocent love of the family daughter who looks up to Jeff as the hero returned from the war. This love is betrayed by Jeff not being the man of her dreams, but rather somewhat proficient womanizer who acquires interest in Vicky, the wife of his work colleague Carl.Second there is the love of Vicki to her husband Carl, which is betrayed by Carl's stupid and insensitive character. Carl, having been fired from his job because of his rowdy nature, pushes Vicki against her will to <more>
'negotiate' the job back through Vicki's former 'contacts' to a top level railroad employee Owens. Vicki refuses multiple times - a history of abuse is hinted between her and Owens. However insensitive Carl fails to catch the reasons of Vicki's refusal and pushes her against her will until she yields to her husband. Only when now disillusioned Vicki returns from a hours long 'negotiations' with her former boss and heads to the shower Carl begins to suspect something is wrong.Third, there is the brutal, dependent and jealous love of Carl to his wife Vicki. Carl, smitten by jealousy, develops a plan. He forces Vicki to play along by writing a letter summoning Owens to a secret rendezvous in a train sleeper carriage. There Carl murders him and takes Vicki's letter from the body to be used as a guarantee against her.Through Carl's actions love between them is broken. Consequently Vicki begins an affair with Jeff, who saw her in the train at the night of the murder. The relationship develops into love, with the pair meeting behind Carl's back at railroad yard shacks and Vicki's relative's apartment. However in a small town such an affair cannot be concealed. The ill-fated and ill-chosen desire causes suffering and alienation. A plan develops to rid Vicki of Carl - now a once again sacked drunk who drowns his sorrows at the local watering hole. But Jeff can't bring himself to kill such a defenseless man. He grabs the letter, unknown by Carl, and returns it to Vicki at the same time dumping her. Vicki, who is now free, pleads and cries for Jeff to take her, but he refuses coldly and walks away from the mess, while suspecting that Vicki has for the whole time only been using him.The definitive moment of the movie for me comes at the train car in which Vicki, now free but manifestly alone, plans to ride away. Carl stumbles in the car and just in the same way as Vicki moments ago he in a humiliated manner laments his love and need for her and pleads for her to stay, even offering to give her the incriminating letter which she already has . But as Vicki had learned nothing. Just like Jeff walked away she too rejects Carl's desperate plea, similar to her own. When the train with Jeff in its cabin - dance tickets given to him by the employee's daughter in his hand - speeds in the distance, Carl strangles Vicki in the compartment.Love is actually not the Hollywood solution to everything and the force that makes one overcome every obstacle. Rather, it can be very ugly, confusing and depressing human desire.I'm giving this movie a rare 10/10. Aside from excellent directing and especially wonderful lighting e.g. Jeff and Vicki in the rail yard shack: when you try to hide, you are actually right at the spotlight I very much enjoyed Lang's interpretation of the source material. Unlike Zola's original, which seems nihilistic to me, Lang's interpretation is realistic and does not fall into unnecessary celebration of inhumanity. That is it's strength. Though the murky waters of depraved love abound, there is yet hope and a glimpse of true love in the form of the dance tickets in Jeff's hands.
Perfect Companion Piece For The Big Heat (by jzappa)
Fritz Lang, the most ingenious directors of film noir, realizes this little work of outstanding genre superiority with a sinister and absorbing panache. Cinematographer Burnett Guffey is unyielding in depicting the spiritual isolation of the characters. Lang punctuates the dramatic action with Guffey's threatening shots of the many railroad tracks interlacing and breaking away. He needs not brandish any certainty of intention for them to act as metaphor for the characters' paths tying themselves in knots. Lang had the old-fashioned cinematic touch that could remain hidden as a more <more>
effective means of showcasing a distinctive style. Insightful and intense, Human Desire is a distressing parable on the subject of the shadows of human rationale and the distortion of the heart, and of desperate characters who lead disappointed lives.Hard-drinking Carl Buckley is a freshly fired railroad worker. His alluring wife visits a railroad executive in an attempt to get his job back. When Buckley imagines that she has done more than just talk with the official, which if I were visited by Gloria Grahame would have been a totally righteous suspicion, he initially cruelly thrashes her then hunts down the railroad man and ultimately kills him in a jealous rage. Train conductor and Korean War vet Glenn Ford then gets himself mixed up in it all. And from there, we have yet another of Fritz's all too real dilemmas, and yet another one of those between Ford and Grahame, one that about matches the mastery and vast entertainment of their companion piece together, The Big Heat.In the face of the cruelty and ruthlessness in getting what they want, regardless of how far they unravel each other's darkest colors, in spite of the scorpion-like sidestepping around their flirtatious relationship, the two lead characters remain sympathetic in their own respective ways, though one is in some sense a champion and the other is an adversary. Accordingly, Human Desire is a boldly familiarizing study of the sense of right and wrong, achieving its shadowy effect by aiming for your heart and loins rather than only your cerebrum.
HUMAN DESIRE has it all: a jealous husband Broderick Crawford , his mousy but sensuous wife Gloria Grahame , a Korean war vet with an unshakable moral code Glenn Ford and all the murder and duplicity one could ask for in a Fritz Lang movie. Like almost everything Lang ever did, HUMAN DESIRE boasts superbly symmetrical cinematography the scenes of the railroad yard are some of the best of their kind ever committed to film , great sets, and an expert sense of staging not to mention solid performances from all of the leads, an aspect often overlooked when people assess Lang's films . <more>
Storywise, HUMAN DESIRE lives up to its title- and with an outstanding and unusual ending that comes as a bit of a surprise.
Lang reunites Grahame, Ford for dark, smouldering Zola update (by bmacv)
Fresh from their exertions in Fritz Lang's superheated The Big Heat, Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame joined by Broderick Crawford reunite for the director's recension of Zola's La Bete Humaine. This time, the heat is not so explosive, but this film's dense, acrid smokes smoulders away to the point of choking claustrophobia. Like Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, the film opens with us criss-crossing a maze of railroad tracks, and the locomotives, cars and switching yards are never far away in this tale of abuse, frustration, adultery and homicides plural somewhere out in <more>
the prairie heartland. Grahame, when bad, is always good, but she's never been badder or better than here, as the young wife of the violently jealous Broderick Crawford. Glenn Ford, just mustered out of Korea, gets his brakeman's job back and chugs right into the middle of this marital discord. Lang tightens the screws slowly and expertly for the full 90 minutes of this midwestern nightmare the final words of which, unspoken, are: "Trenton makes, the world takes," read backwards on a railway trestle . This is a canonical work of film noir, left -- like too many others -- in unviewed obscurity. It's every bit the equal of The Big Heat or Scarlet Street.
One Jealous Husband + One Dangerous Woman + One Willing Admirer Trouble (by movingpicturegal)
Well-done film noir about a railroad engineer, Jeff Warren Glenn Ford , who gets mixed up with a beautiful femme fatale Gloria Grahame who comes complete with husband who has murdered a man in a train car in an act of jealousy - and happens to be one of Warren's co-workers. Meeting her on the train just after the murder, kissing her within moments of meeting, it seemed like, our railroad man is soon embroiled in a love affair with this woman, who can't break away from her husband as he is holding a piece of blackmail over her head involving the murder.This film is quite a good one, <more>
boosted up considerably by the great performance given by Gloria Grahame, who brings a sad vulnerability to her character and really makes this film. Broderick Crawford is also very good, as the angry, murderous husband and Glenn Ford comes across as the handsome, strong, quiet type which completely suits his part - well done acting all around for this. This film also features interesting photography and lighting typical of this style of film - I especially like the way the train scenes are shot, with the camera strapped to the front of the train, giving a first-person ride along the railroad tracks. A gripping film with a plot that kept me interested from beginning to end.
Film Noir's Most Complicated Fatale (by aimless-46)
"Human Desire" 1954 is technically a remake of Jean Renoir's "La Bete Humaine" 1938 , which featured Spencer Tracy look-alike Jean Gabin and Simone Simon; which itself was an adaptation of French Naturalist writer Emile Zola's novel. But director Fritz Lang takes his version in an entirely different direction, turning the story from psychological thriller to film noir masterpiece by focusing on the two-timing woman Vicki Buckley - played by Gloria Grahame .Renoir's "La Bete Humaine" had instead focused on the exploring the mind of Gabin's <more>
protagonist Lantier ; specifically his genetic curse of brutality and rage. His occupation of train engineer and the images of train tracks are used to reinforce the inevitability of his fate.In Lang's version this character Jeff Warren - played by Glenn Ford has no dimensionality, the train tracks reinforce his straight and narrow nature, he is not bent and his train engine must be placed in a roundhouse to be given a different direction.There are intersecting tracks in the train yard and Jeff's moral compass is only challenged in that location. The film's two most suspenseful sequences occur in the train yard and Lang amplifies the discordance with disorienting changes of camera angles and at one point an expressionistic jump-cut as Jeff and Vicki suddenly bridge the distance between each other.But this is Grahame's film; her all-time best performance and Lang's best work as an acting for the camera director. She gently teases this role, when others would fill it with overwrought melodrama. Her Vicki Buckley is the most authentic and complex heroine/fatale of the Film Noir genre; perhaps of all cinema. The character is a canvas filled with shades of gray; at once manipulative, vulnerable, self-destructive, and haunting. Much of Grahame's effectiveness is nonverbal and much of it derives from her physical qualities and inherent fragility. All very fitting as Zola was the pioneer of literary naturalism.Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
Human Desire is directed by Fritz Lang and adapted for the screen by Alfred Hayes from the story "The Human Beast" written by Émile Zola. It stars Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Broderick Crawford. Music is by Daniele Amfitheatrof and Burnett Guffey is the cinematographer. The story had been filmed twice before, as Die Bestie im Menschen in 1920 and La Bête humaine in 1938.The plot revolves around a love triangle axis involving Jeff Warren Ford , Vicki Buckley Grahame and Carl Buckley Crawford . Crawford's Railroad Marshall gets fired and asks his wife, Viki, to sweet talk <more>
one of the yards main investors, John Owens Grandon Rhodes , into pressuring his yard boss into giving him his job back. But there is a history there, and Carl is beset with jealousy when Viki is away for far too long. It's his jealousy that will start the downward spiral of events that will change their lives forever, with Jeff firmly in the middle of the storm.The Production Code of the time ensured that Fritz Lang's take on the Zola novel would be considerably toned down. Thus some of the sex and violence aspects in the narrative give way to suggestion or aftermath. However, for although it may not be in the top tier of Lang's works, it's still an involving and intriguing picture seeping with film noir attributes. It features a couple of wretched characters living a bleak existence, what hope there is is in short supply and pleasures are futile, stymied by jealousy and murder. Thrust in to the middle of such hopelessness is the bastion of good and pure honesty, Jeff Warren, fresh from serving his country in the Korean War. Lusted after by the sweet daughter of his friend and landlord Kathleen Case and Edgar Buchanan respectively , Jeff, back in employment at the rail yard, has it all going for him. But as the title suggests, human beings are at times at the mercy of their desires, and it's here where Lang enjoys pitting his three main characters against their respective fates. All set to the backdrop of a cold rail yard and the trains that work out of that steely working class place Guffey's photography in sync with desolation of location and the characters collision course of fate .Featuring two of the principal cast from The Big Heat 1953 , it's a very well casted picture. Grahame is a revelation as the amoral wife stung by unfulfillment, sleazy yet sexy, Grahame makes Vicki both alluring and sympathetic. Lang had wanted Rita Hayworth for the role, but a child custody case prevented her from leaving the country much of the film was shot in Canada , so in came Grahame and film noir got another classic femme fatale. Ford could play an everyman in his sleep, so this was an easy role for him to fill, but that's taking nothing away from the quality of his performance, because he's the cooling glue holding the film together. Crawford offers up another in his line of hulking brutes, with this one pitiful as he has anger issues take a hold, his original crime being only that he wants to desperately please his uncaring wife. Strong support comes from Buchanan, Case and Diane DeLaire.Adultery, jealousy, murder and passion dwells within Human Desire, a highly accomplished piece of film noir from the gifted Fritz Lang. 7.5/10
War veteran Jeff Warren Glenn Ford returns home and takes up his old position as a train engineer. One night Warren makes a pass at a friendly woman on a train, but she leaves him in a hurry, next day warren learns that a passenger wass murdered on the train he was travelling on. He is called as a witness at the inquiry. He tells the judge he saw nothing on the train and hides the fact from the judge that he unwittingly made advances on fellow passenger Vicki Buckley, the wife of his co worker Carl Buckley Broderick Crawford . Warren and Vicki soon hit it off, but soon Warren believes <more>
Vicky may have had something to do with the killing. Nice thriller with some great railroad footage, but you might be hard pressed to recognize it as a Lang film. Grahame is especially good in a particularly slutty role
Back on the tracks not really a Renoir remake (by manuel-pestalozzi)
It is interesting to compare Jean Renoir's La bête humaine 1938 with Human Desire as they both are based on the same novel by French literature heavyweight Emile Zola. Whereas in Renoir's movie the train and its engineer seem to be wild beasts which have to be kept under control by tight regulations, Lang's engineer is a regular guy who has returned from the Korean war and just yearns to be back on the tracks again. He clearly wants order, regularity and predictability in his life, the very things which seem to destroy the Broderick Crawford character who appears to be the real <more>
beast in Human Desire. His counterpart in the Renoir movie is an authority figure in the railroad system who more than anything else wants to keep up a front of respectability.Gloria Grahame's character is less a femme fatale, like cocky Simone Simon in La bête humaine, than a true victim who has suffered on the hands of different men. She really looks exhausted and seems to have given up on life. In the vain hope that war experience has awakened the beast in the train engineer, she succeeds in rousing some passion in him, but it is not enough for his murdering her husband who really is a bad character for whom it is hard to feel any pity . The final scene very much looks like her executing a carefully planned suicide-scheme which also definitely brings down her evil husband.Both movies show that the layer of civilization is pretty thin. Lang's Human Desire distinguishes itself for being a careful probe into the social conditions of the USA in the first part of the 1950ies which is also evident in the careful set design. On several occasions the engineer talks about his war experiences which led him to have new esteem for the merits of order and civilization. It is an important item in Human Desire. Up to you to decide if this makes it a pro or an anti war movie.