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Human Desire (1954)

A Korean War vet returns to his job as a railroad engineer and becomes involved in an affair with a co-worker's wife following a murder on a train where they meet.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Alfred Hayes (screenplay), Émile Zola (novel) (as Emile Zola)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Glenn Ford ... Jeff Warren
Gloria Grahame ... Vicki Buckley
Broderick Crawford ... Carl Buckley
Edgar Buchanan ... Alec Simmons
Kathleen Case ... Ellen Simmons
Peggy Maley ... Jean
Diane DeLaire 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. Vicki Buckley is the sultry wife of brutish railroad supervisor Carl Buckley, an alcoholic wife beater with a hair trigger temper and penchant for explosive violence. After Buckley is fired for insubordination, he begs Vicki to intercede on his behalf with John Owens, a rich and powerful businessman who Vicki's mother used to keep house for, and whose influence can get him reinstated. When Buckley suspects she has used sexual favors to persuade Owens, he beats Vicki and develops a plan to meet Owen on the train and stabs him to death in a jealous rage in a his compartment. Jeff, who is deadheading after a trip, is on the train and meets Vicki without knowing who she is when Buckley needs her to get him out of the way so he can get back to their compartment without being seen as he is covered in blood. Jeff is a potential... Written by duke1029

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 November 1954 (West Germany) See more »

Also Known As:

The Human Beast See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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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

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 »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Referenced in The Girl on the Late, Late Show (1974) See more »

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User Reviews

Lang's gloomy remake of Renoir's "La bete humaine"
4 May 2003 | by KalamanSee all my reviews

"Human Desire" is NOT one of Fritz Lang's masterpieces. Though it has its moments, it ultimately comes off as a second-rate work. A remake of Jean Renoir's 1938 "La bete Humaine" starring Jean Gabin, "Human Desire" is less successful than Renoir's adaptation of the Zola novel, but when all things considered, it is not bad, and is filled with some interesting geometric images & visuals. The film turns out to be gloomy, often bleak melodrama that has a striking affinity with Billy Wilder's "Double Indemnity" in its plot, dealing with a married woman (Gloria Grahame) trying to get rid of her bland husband (Broderick Crawford) through the help of a train engineer (Glenn Ford). If you stop concentrating on the melodramatic plot and focus on Lang's lovely architectural compositions, "Human Desire" becomes quite engrossing picture, on par with "The Big Heat", Lang's previous film noir with Grahame & Ford. From the first image to the last, the scenes of railroad tracks are masterfully handled: we see a series of precise lines and converging tracks moving forward. Moreover, Grahame and Crawford's rooms in their working class house are characterized by a series of squares, boxes, rectangles to conjure up a nightmarish vision of fate and destiny.

Also, it is worth noting that in the same house we see the appearance of television for the first time in Lang's films. Lang will later explore the dangers of media manipulation in his last two American films: "While the City Sleeps" and "Beyond a Reasonable Doubt".


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