6.8/10
2,910
57 user 39 critic

The Big Knife (1955)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 25 November 1955 (France)
Hollywood actor Charles Castle is pressured by his studio boss into a criminal cover-up to protect his valuable career.

Director:

Robert Aldrich

Writers:

James Poe (adapted for the screen by), Clifford Odets (stage play)
Reviews
Popularity
3,704 ( 14,242)

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1 win & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Jack Palance ... Charles Castle
Ida Lupino ... Marion Castle
Wendell Corey ... Smiley Coy
Jean Hagen ... Connie Bliss
Rod Steiger ... Stanley Shriner Hoff
Ilka Chase ... Patty Benedict
Everett Sloane ... Nat Danziger
Wesley Addy ... Horatio 'Hank' Teagle
Paul Langton ... Buddy Bliss
Nick Dennis ... Mickey Feeney
Bill Walker ... Russell
Michael Winkelman ... Billy Castle (as Mike Winkelman)
Shelley Winters ... Dixie Evans (as Miss Shelley Winters)
Edit

Storyline

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 Thomas Robbin

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

With Razor-Edge Sharpness It Reveals the Shocking Private Life of a Glamorous Hollywood Star! (original print ad) See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

25 November 1955 (France) See more »

Also Known As:

Hollywood-Story See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$423,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,250,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

3 Channel Stereo (RCA Sound Recording) (5.0) (L-R)| Mono (Glen Glenn Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Burt Lancaster turned down the role of Charles Castle. See more »

Goofs

The camera and operator are visibly reflected in one scene in the living room. See more »

Quotes

Charlie Castle: Am I the worst oaf in the world?
Marion Castle: The world's a big place. You're the worst one in my life.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the opening credits: Upholstered furniture by Martin/ Brattrud. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Barton Fink (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

Powerhouse
27 August 2009 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

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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