The Big Knife (1955)

Not Rated   |    |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir


The Big Knife (1955) Poster

Hollywood actor Charles Castle is pressured by his studio boss into a criminal cover-up to protect his valuable career.

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6.9/10
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  • Jack Palance and Ida Lupino in The Big Knife (1955)
  • Jack Palance and Shelley Winters in The Big Knife (1955)
  • Jack Palance and Rod Steiger in The Big Knife (1955)
  • Jack Palance and Shelley Winters in The Big Knife (1955)
  • The Big Knife (1955)
  • Jack Palance, Shelley Winters, Jean Hagen, and Ida Lupino in The Big Knife (1955)

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2 April 2008 | evanston_dad
6
| Not Enough of That Aldrich Style
This rather over-heated Clifford Odets play gets the screen treatment by pulp specialist director Robert Aldrich.

Jack Palance plays Charles Castle, a sex symbol movie star who's blackmailed into re-signing a seven-year contract with his sleazy producer/director, Stanley Hoff (Rod Steiger). Charlie's wife, Marion (Ida Lupino), wants her husband back, and tries to persuade him to refuse. The wife (Jean Hagen) of his agent comes on to him; a floozy studio bit player (Shelley Winters) wants him too. Everybody has something on him and tries to use it to get him to do what he/she wants. The film is a bitter and caustic expose of the Hollywood studio system as it existed in 1955, and how selling yourself to the bigwigs was akin to selling your soul to the devil.

The film is too talky by far, and it's marred by sub-par acting, especially from Palance himself, who isn't right for the role, and Steiger, who's absolutely atrocious, screaming his way through an unwatchably mannered performance. Aldrich does his best to lend some visual variety to what is essentially a one-set movie, but it feels restricted. While it's satisfyingly sordid, it doesn't have the fascinating depravity so prominent in Aldrich's other 1955 release, "Kiss Me Deadly."

Grade: B

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