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 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 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 wanted to film the movie in Jasper, Alberta, Canada. See more »

Goofs

The exact same footage of the conductor in the vestibule of the passenger car is used twice in different parts of the movie. 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

Version of La Bête Humaine (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Lang reunites Grahame, Ford for dark, smouldering Zola update
8 May 2001 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Fresh from their exertions in Fritz Lang's superheated The Big Heat, Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame (joined by Broderick Crawford) reunite for the director's recension of Zola's La Bete Humaine. This time, the heat is not so explosive, but this film's dense, acrid smokes smoulders away to the point of choking claustrophobia. Like Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, the film opens with us criss-crossing a maze of railroad tracks, and the locomotives, cars and switching yards are never far away in this tale of abuse, frustration, adultery and homicides (plural) somewhere out in the prairie heartland. Grahame, when bad, is always good, but she's never been badder or better than here, as the young wife of the violently jealous Broderick Crawford. Glenn Ford, just mustered out of Korea, gets his brakeman's job back and chugs right into the middle of this marital discord. Lang tightens the screws slowly and expertly for the full 90 minutes of this midwestern nightmare (the final words of which, unspoken, are: "Trenton makes, the world takes," read backwards on a railway trestle). This is a canonical work of film noir, left -- like too many others -- in unviewed obscurity. It's every bit the equal of The Big Heat or Scarlet Street.


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