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.

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(screenplay), (novel) (as Emile Zola)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Vicki Buckley
...
Carl Buckley
...
Alec Simmons
Kathleen Case ...
Ellen Simmons
Peggy Maley ...
Jean
Diane DeLaire ...
Vera Simmons
Grandon Rhodes ...
John Owens
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Storyline

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

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Taglines:

She was born to be bad...to be kissed...to make trouble! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

5 August 1954 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Human Beast  »

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Gloria Grahame's part was originally intended for Rita Hayworth. See more »

Goofs

The closing sequence shows the famous "Trenton Makes, The World Takes" bridge over the Delaware River and the NJ State Capitol out the side window of the locomotive over Jeff Warren's shoulder, meaning the train is headed south on the four-track Pennsylvania Railroad Northeast Corridor. The scene cuts to the front window and the train is on a single-line track in farmland passing a track gang. After Glen waves to the workers, the scene cuts back to a forward view of a three-track railroad passing an opposing steam train that was not visible in the previous shot. See more »

Quotes

Carl Buckley: It's 6:30 already.
Jean: If you're married, that's late, and if you're single, it's early.
See more »

Connections

Version of Cruel Train (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

 
A railroad worker falls for a married woman
27 January 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, and Broderick Crawford deal with "Human Desire" a 1954 film directed by Fritz Lang and based on Emile Zola's "La Bete Humaine." Fresh from Korea, Jeff Warren (Ford) is a railroad engineer currently staying with his friend (Edgar Buchanan) and his family, one of whom is a young woman interested in Jeff. And no wonder

  • remember, this is Glenn Ford. One of the railroad bosses, Carl


Buckley (Crawford) loses his job in a fit of temper and asks his wife Vicki (Grahame) to appeal to a wealthy and powerful family friend to help him get his job back. Well, she does, but when she returns successful many hours later and wants to hit the shower, it doesn't take much to figure out just how she accomplished this feat. Blind with anger, Buckley makes her write a letter saying she will meet the man in his train compartment. Buckley kills him there and keeps the letter to hold over Vicki.

As she was seen near the murder compartment, Vicki flirts with Ford to keep her out of the investigation and eventually they become involved. That's when Vicki starts hinting around that she needs the letter found and her husband dead - not necessarily in that order.

Not being familiar with the source material, I can't comment on this film as well as some others here. The postwar era was not Lang's strongest; he seems to have fallen out of favor and not getting the budgets or the scripts he once did. That being said, this is a very absorbing noir with Gloria Grahame being completely hateful and Ford being Mr. Nice Guy who is in this woman's clutches. Crawford's character is an odd one; he's presented as a good guy and then suddenly he goes off and becomes a total madman.

What makes this film is the sexual tension between Ford and Grahame. Ford was a wonderful movie star but with a limited range. What he had going for him beside good looks was major sex appeal, and while Grahame burns, he smolders. They make a hot team.

Perhaps the story and characters could have been fleshed out more; as it is, it's entertaining with good directing, acting, and some interesting shots. Great for noir fans.


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