7.2/10
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Human Desire (1954)

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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Writers:

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

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Vicki Buckley
...
Carl Buckley
...
Alec Simmons
Kathleen Case ...
Ellen Simmons
...
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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 November 1954 (West Germany)  »

Also Known As:

The Human Beast  »

Company Credits

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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

Fritz Lang had desperately wanted Peter Lorre to play Jeff Warren, but Lang had treated Lorre so abusively during the making of M (1931) that the actor refused. See more »

Goofs

While the film is set in California, at 1:29:50, the train passes over the Lower Trenton Bridge. The bridge with it's distinctive "Trenton makes, the world takes" sign crosses the Delaware River between Morrisville, Pennsylvania and Trenton, New Jersey. See more »

Quotes

Jean: [Dressing for a date] Zip me up will you, Carl?
Carl Buckley: [Impatiently] You dames, you spend more time gettin' dressed...
Jean: Have to! It's much better to have good looks than brains because most of the men I know can see much better than they can think.
See more »

Connections

Version of La bête humaine (1938) 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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