Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Big Knife (1955)

Director: Robert Aldrich

Writers: James Poe, Clifford Odets

Composer: Frank De Vol

Starring: Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Wendell Corey, Jean Hagen, Rod Steiger, Ilka Chase, Everett Sloane, Wesley Addy, Paul Langton, Nick Dennis, Bill Walker, Michael Winkelman, Shelley Winters, Richard Boone, Strother Martin

More info: IMDb

Tagline:  The hottest hunk of film Hollywood ever shot!

Plot: 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.

My rating: 7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Sure.

What an indictment on the corrupt Hollywood studios of the time!  For anyone who doubts Palance's acting chops just needs to watch this flick.  This guy's a beast!  It's a shame he didn't get much chance to stretch those thespian legs in the 70s until his death.  He was pretty much relegated to playing heavies at that point.  But check out this great little piece of fun he threw in...

We can't forget the menacing performance of Rod Steiger as the studio head, Stanely Hoff.  What an egotistical, power-mad asshole he is.  Palance's emotion run the gamut in this picture and he really shows off his range.  And I can't help but love on Shelley Winters.  She's just terrific in this and the more I see of her, the more respect I've got.  Just about the entire film takes place in Charlie's (Palance) house which makes more sense now that I know this was based on a play.  I had no idea how this thing was going to end until I was slapped upside the head with a shovel in the final minutes  Wow!   Great flick.  With the title I was expecting a film noir or something along those lines but I'm not disappointed in the least.  This is a great drama/thriller with minimal locations and a whole lot of talent on the screen.  The MGM DVD has only the theatrical trailer as an extra.

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