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 ... See full summary »
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
Two years later, Robert Aldrich's career looked all but over when he was fired from a Columbia movie called The Garment Jungle (1957). Columbia head Harry Cohn happily handed him his marching papers when he realized halfway through filming that this was the same director who had made The Big Knife (1955). Although he was never officially blacklisted, Aldrich had real difficulty securing other work and had to go to Europe where he made the Hammer film Ten Seconds to Hell (1959) and the Biblical epic Sodom and Gomorrah (1962). See more »
In the living room, as Hoff begins "We all love you..." his hands are clasped in front of him. But on the cut, in mid-sentence ("...you're a great artist...") his arms are spread wide. See more »
I don't care if I do see a snake. I'm sure I'd much rather see a snake than a Hollywood producer.
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The Big Knife is a mostly good adaptation of a Clifford Odets play about a Hollywood actor who's being blackmailed into studio servitude while trying to patch up his failing marriage. This is a movie for which the word powerful was truly invented. Most of the film takes place on one set and places heavy emphasis on speeches from the individual characters for its really riveting moments (as I would expect from a stage play), but those moments definitely get across. The whole cast is good, but Jack Palance in a nuanced and fiery performance as the actor Charlie Castle, and Rod Steiger, giving a deeply felt and passionate realization of the corrupt studio boss are nothing short of superb. The screenplay is full of smart, incisive, biting dialogue as well. Except for a melodramatic turn at the end, that, for me, takes a lot of the edge off the story, this is a well-acted film that is solid, though not spectacular, entertainment. 3*** out of 4
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