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

Goofs

The exact same footage of a steam engine powered work train being passed is used in two different parts of the movie. See more »

Quotes

[First lines]
John Thurston: Good to see you back, Jeff.
Jeff Warren: Town looks great
John Thurston: 80% better than Korea, I'll bet.
Jeff Warren: 100%.
John Thurston: No medals?
Jeff Warren: They ran out of them.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Thèmes et variations du cinéma (1967) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Slightly disappointing
17 September 2004 | by guy-bellingerSee all my reviews

Despite Lang's signature, I must admit I have been a bit let down. I say "a bit" because "Human Desire" is not a bad film in itself. Simply, it somewhat pales beside its admirable model, Jean Renoir's "La Bête humaine".

Here are a few shortcomings ( which will appear so only if we have seen the two versions ) : -To begin with, why this happy end, at least concerning Warren ( Lantier's American counterpart) ? It is downright unfaithful both to Zola's naturalism and Renoir's "poetic determinism". - More in keeping with the source material it was a commendable idea to make Warren a Korea War veteran ( war CAN unsettle individuals) but the character basically remains an all-American good guy erring a little.And if to err is "human" then it doesn't at all make the character a "human beast". - Glenn Ford's interpretation is undistiguished compared to Jean Gabin's formidable presence in the former film. - Something equally amazing is choosing usually picturesque Edgar Buchanan to replace Carette and give him nothing to do ! No one can forget Carette's gift of the gab and drawling accent hiding a deep feeling of helpless sympathy. Whoever will remember Edgar Buchanan in this dull part ? [ sigh of helpless sympathy ! ]

There are good points, however, in this film, notably the convincing portrayal of the "cursed couple" by always reliable Gloria Grahame and Broderick Crawford as well as the opening sequences of tracks,switches, metallic bridges... with no other sounds than the clanking of wheels ,conjuring up ( this time like in Renoir's "Human Beast" )the inexorable progress of fate.

On the whole I didn't really dislike "Human Desire" but I found it less atmospheric, more matter of fact than the original. In other words, I wish I hadn't seen "La Bête humaine"...yet.


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