Human Desire (1954)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Film-Noir, Romance  |  5 August 1954 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 2,439 users  
Reviews: 38 user | 24 critic

A Korean War vet returns to his job as a railroad engineer and becomes involved in a sordid affair with a co-worker's wife and murder.



(screenplay), (novel) (as Emile Zola)
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Complete credited cast:
Vicki Buckley
Carl Buckley
Alec Simmons
Kathleen Case ...
Ellen Simmons
Peggy Maley ...
Diane DeLaire ...
Vera Simmons
Grandon Rhodes ...
John Owens


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. He becomes attracted immediately to Vicki Buckley, the sultry wife of brutish railroad supervisor Carl Buckley, an alcoholic wife beater with a hair trigger temper and penchant for explosive violence. Jeff becomes reluctantly drawn into a sordid affair by the compulsively seductive Vicki. After Buckley is fired for insubordination, he begs her to intercede on his behalf with John Owens, a rich and powerful businessman whose influence can get him reinstated. When Buckley suspects she has used sexual favors to persuade Owens, he stabs him to death in a jealous rage in a railroad compartment. Jeff, a potential witness to the homicide, becomes an accessory after the fact. Written by duke1029

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A rarity on the screen... a RAW slice of life! See more »


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Release Date:

5 August 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Human Beast  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Marlon Brando refused the role of Jeff Warren, saying "I cannot believe that the man who gave us the über dark Mabuse, the pathetic child murderer in M (1931) and the futuristic look at society, Metropolis (1927), would stoop to hustling such crap." See more »


When Jeff Warren is shown operating the throttle, three quick shots show the throttle in widely different positions with the middle footage being a shot of an actual trainman operated throttle. In reality, no throttle would ever be moved between positions that quickly as it would make for a violent ride if it did not actually pull the cars apart at their couplers. See more »


Jeff Warren: How do you tell the right girl for you from the wrong one?
Vera Simmons: By the way you love her.
See more »


Version of Die Bestie im Menschen (1920) See more »

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User Reviews

One Jealous Husband + One Dangerous Woman + One Willing Admirer = Trouble
22 January 2007 | by (Los Angeles) – See all my reviews

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, 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.

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