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Roscoe Lee Browne
Charles Castle is a successful Hollywood actor who has opted for screen success over art. He must make critical decisions regarding his career, his marriage, his art & morality. In this screen adaptation of a Clifford Odets play, Castle is pressured by his studio boss and manipulated into a potentially murderous cover-up to protect his career. An indictment of the amoral world of 50's Hollywood and its corrosive effect upon the artist. Written by
"The Big Knife" is really a stage play recorded on film. It's a Hollywood soap opera that features a lot of good actors eating the scenery. Rod Steiger and Everett Sloan are great as the monstrous studio honcho and weaselly agent, respectively. Jack Palance is a competent actor but was woefully miscast as the sensitive, tortured matinée idol -- nobody would ever confuse Palance with a matinée idol. Nevertheless, he does an adequate job.
The power of the studio system in the '50s is well depicted, if a bit overwrought. Steiger's performance is particularly delicious as his toweringly self-centered character cries, wheedles, and intimidates his underlings into doing what he wants.
The movie is showing its age but its excesses, especially its colorful language, are a lot of fun. Recommended, 7 out of 10.
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