When the South loses the war, Confederate veteran O'Meara goes West, joins the Sioux, takes a wife and refuses to be an American but he must choose a side when the Sioux go to war against the U.S. Army.
Set in the Depression, a gang of half-witted small-time hoods led by Slim Grissom kidnap heiress Barbara Blandish and Slim proceeds to fall in love with her. Remake of the British film No ... 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
Too talky for some, too stage-bound for others, too strident for all, this is not a movie for everyone. Yet The Big Knife continues to fascinate at the same time it annoys. Maybe it's the savage depiction of Hollywood politics and the amoral glamour industry surrounding it. After all, neither blackmail nor murder is off-limits to ego-maniacal studio boss Stanley Hoff ( vintage Rod Steiger), while the human sharks swimming around him behave nothing like opening night at the Oscars. Maybe it's the sterling cast, featuring such 50's exotica as Steiger, Jack Palance, Wendell Corey, and Shelley Winters. In the end, of course, everyone gets to explode on screen except the ice cold Corey whose chronic bemusement proves ultimately more satanic than cynical. Whatever the reason, the result is an over-the-top cavalcade of unusual flair.
It's likely that producer-director Robert Aldrich targeted the film in behalf of blacklisted mentor Abraham Polonsky with whom he had collaborated on 1948's Force of Evil. After all, the year was 1955 and the all-powerful list could not be attacked directly, so what better vehicle than Clifford Odet's corrosive stage play adapted for all America to see. (Odets would do the same for Broadway in 1957's revealing Sweet Smell of Success.) It's fun to imagine how Aldrich's resulting indictment played in studio screening rooms where real reputations were at stake. Then too, much of the film's dirty laundry appears based on fact. The hit and run on Clark Gable's hushed-up 1933 episode; the Palance character on John Garfield's death at 39, listed officially as heart attack. It's hard to picture the producers ever believing such curdled fare would actually make money. Of course it didn't, angering many ticket-buyers with a title that seemed to imply real action instead of endless palaver. Still, this overheated exercise in shameless baroque remains an interesting oddity. A permanent record not only of individual styles, but of artistic protest amidst the throes of cultural repression.
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