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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Human Desire (1954)

After being fired, a railroad man (Broderick Crawford) begs his young wife (Gloria Grahame) to use her influence in getting his job back. But his irrational jealousy causes him to kill the man (Grandon Rhodes) after suspecting his wife slept with him to get his job back. A train conductor (Glenn Ford) lies to the police about seeing Grahame near the murder victim’s train compartment but he begins an adulterous affair with Grahame. This Fritz Lang remake of Jean Renoir’s LE BETE HUMAINE (1938) is unfortunately sanitized to the point of practically making the hero (Ford) a eunuch. He’s supremely uninteresting and all our sympathy, however perverse, goes to the poor, unraveling sap played by Crawford and his wife who has continually been abused and used by men. When Ford makes his holier than thou speech, I just wanted to smack him. Still, there are many pluses in the film including Gloria Grahame in what might be the quintessential Gloria Grahame role, even better than Simone Simon in Renoir’s original. 1950s American morality wins out over French pessimism. With Edgar Buchanan and Peggy Maley.

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