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Human Desire is directed by Fritz Lang and adapted for the screen by Alfred Hayes from the story "The Human Beast" written by Émile Zola. It stars Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame and Broderick Crawford. Music is by Daniele Amfitheatrof and Burnett Guffey is the cinematographer. The story had been filmed twice before, as Die Bestie im Menschen in 1920 and La Bête humaine in 1938.

The plot revolves around a love triangle axis involving Jeff Warren (Ford), Vicki Buckley (Grahame) and Carl Buckley (Crawford). Crawford's Railroad Marshall gets fired and asks his wife, Viki, to sweet talk one of the yards main investors, John Owens (Grandon Rhodes), into pressuring his yard boss into giving him his job back. But there is a history there, and Carl is beset with jealousy when Viki is away for far too long. It's his jealousy that will start the downward spiral of events that will change their lives forever, with Jeff firmly in the middle of the storm.

The Production Code of the time ensured that Fritz Lang's take on the Zola novel would be considerably toned down. Thus some of the sex and violence aspects in the narrative give way to suggestion or aftermath. However, for although it may not be in the top tier of Lang's works, it's still an involving and intriguing picture seeping with film noir attributes. It features a couple of wretched characters living a bleak existence, what hope there is is in short supply and pleasures are futile, stymied by jealousy and murder. Thrust in to the middle of such hopelessness is the bastion of good and pure honesty, Jeff Warren, fresh from serving his country in the Korean War. Lusted after by the sweet daughter of his friend and landlord (Kathleen Case and Edgar Buchanan respectively), Jeff, back in employment at the rail yard, has it all going for him. But as the title suggests, human beings are at times at the mercy of their desires, and it's here where Lang enjoys pitting his three main characters against their respective fates. All set to the backdrop of a cold rail yard and the trains that work out of that steely working class place (Guffey's photography in sync with desolation of location and the characters collision course of fate).

Featuring two of the principal cast from The Big Heat (1953), it's a very well casted picture. Grahame is a revelation as the amoral wife stung by unfulfillment, sleazy yet sexy, Grahame makes Vicki both alluring and sympathetic. Lang had wanted Rita Hayworth for the role, but a child custody case prevented her from leaving the country (much of the film was shot in Canada), so in came Grahame and film noir got another classic femme fatale. Ford could play an everyman in his sleep, so this was an easy role for him to fill, but that's taking nothing away from the quality of his performance, because he's the cooling glue holding the film together. Crawford offers up another in his line of hulking brutes, with this one pitiful as he has anger issues that take a hold, his original crime being only that he wants to desperately please his uncaring wife. Strong support comes from Buchanan, Case and Diane DeLaire.

Adultery, jealousy, murder and passion dwells within Human Desire, a highly accomplished piece of film noir from the gifted Fritz Lang. 7.5/10
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on 23 November 2010
This is an excellent noir movie, with Ford playing one of onnly a handful of anti-hero roles in his career (normally he played the hero, with only light shades of "character gray" showing now and then). The ending is perfect, and the scenes shot from the trains are spectactular.
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on 15 March 2011
Picture and sound quality are more than acceptable.

As for the movie itself, not exactly one of Fritz Lang's masterpieces but it surely has its own potency and suspense. Apart from that, what makes the film worth seeing is the presence of Hollywood legends such as Gloria Grahame, a fatal spider woman prototype, and Glenn Ford reminding at times of Jack Nicholson in ''The postman always rings twice''.
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on 11 November 2016
I last viewed this film some six or seven years back and must have found it acceptable to have kept it in my collection.

I agree with the positive points from other reviewers but for those, like myself, who have problems with background audios this one is going to be somewhat troublesome. “Exciting” musical scores during action without dialogue can often be superfluous, but to have tunes in the background that the producer thinks might be appropriate to “spice-up” the mood can sometimes go amiss when competing with conversation; it does so for me in this film.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 August 2016
Fritz Lang’s 'loose’ 1954 adaptation of Emil Zola’s feted novel La Bête Humaine provides an entertaining enough mix of noir (some particularly nice use of shadow by noted cinematographer Burnett Guffey) and melodrama (if, at times, a little overdone in this respect). The original poster headline for Lang’s film, in which Gloria Grahame’s sultry temptress Vicki Buckley is billed thus 'She was born to be bad … to be kissed … to make trouble!’, is, of course, suitably hilarious and (hopefully deliberately) Lang just about manages to rein in his film from living up to quite such an OTT billing. That said, Grahame’s Vicki gives us plenty of highly charged moments as she attempts to exploit the attraction felt by Glenn Ford’s Korean War vet, now railway engineer, Jeff Warren, and resist the advances of her jealous, violent, older husband, Broderick Crawford’s co-worker to Warren, Carl.

Lang, via Alfred Hayes’ screenplay, chose to (effectively) split Zola’s original Jacques Lantier character between the Buckley and Warren characters, the former suffering Lantier’s inherited violent tendencies, whilst Warren assumes the role of 'the wife’s’ lover. This has the effect of making the film’s denouement a little less interesting, though Warren’s conflict of killing in cold blood vs. killing in a war situation (as a vet) adds another dimension. The film’s noir credentials are accentuated by potential comparisons with Billy Wilder’s masterpiece Double Indemnity, as we get a train-related murder and identity concealed behind an open door, though Lang’s central pairing of Grahame and Ford are not in the same league as Stanwyck and MacMurray (IMHO). That said, Lang maintains a good sense of tension and moodiness throughout, qualities enhanced on-screen by a handful of trademark visual sequences, such as that where Warren and Vicki meet alongside a steam-engulfed train, a shadowy Vicki wandering downstairs into the basement and a resigned, fated Carl walking into shot past Warren. Such visual highlights are, alas, relatively few and far between and Human Desire not only falls short of Lang’s most lauded German works, but even his most impressive Hollywood films such as The Big Heat (which paired Grahame and Ford more impressively), Fury and You Only Live Once. I also have a preference for Jean Renoir's interpretation of the Zola novel.
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on 6 February 2011
One of the best film noirs of the 50s-Glenn Ford is the train driver who falls for noir siren Gloria Grahame who's married to jealous & abusive murderer Broderick Crawford-Fritz Lang directs & he weaves his dark shadows throughout the movie-the focus on rail tracks throughout the movie are Lang's metaphor for the crossing paths of humans relationships-Ford & Grahame are hotter together than any modern stars on screen.
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on 6 July 2011
Glenn Ford is excellent ,as are all supporting actors, in this great relationship,femme fatale based film noir. Great photography and well paced this is not the most deadly noir but has enough good plot and sub plots to keep going at a decent speed.I especially like all the train scences throughout as they add a dark atmosphere to this story. Recommended.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 30 October 2011
Columbia Pictures presents "HUMAN DESIRE" (1954) ~ (91 min/B&W) ~~ Starring: Glenn Ford, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford, Edgar Buchanan & Kathleen Case

Directed by Fritz Lang

Carl Buckley (Broderick Crawford) needs the intervention of his beautiful wife Vicki (Gloria Grahame) to keep his job, so Vicki meets with Carl's boss Owens (Grandon Rhodes), and Carl's job is secure. Insanely jealous, Carl finds Vicki with Owens on board a train and kills Owens. Jeff Warren (Glenn Ford) just back from Korea and now a train engineer protects Vicki and they begin an affair - all the more complicating the situation and leading to disastrous developments

Lang & Ford had previously combined for The Big Heat (1953) ~ Check out my review on Amazon ~ The Big Heat [DVD] [2006]

* Special footnote: ~~ Gloria Grahame's part was originally intended for Rita Hayworth ~~ Fritz Lang had desperately wanted Peter Lorre to play Jeff Warren, but Lang had treated Lorre so abusively during the making of M that the actor refused.

** The cast, direction and film is very good, but the Goodtimes video picture and sound is low quality...but still watchable!

1. Fritz Lang [Director]
Date of Birth: 5 December 1890 - Vienna, Austria-Hungary [now Austria]
Date of Death: 2 August 1976 - Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California

2. Glenn Ford (aka: Gwyllyn Samuel Newton Ford)
Date of Birth: 1 May 1916 - Sainte-Christine, Quebec, Canada
Date of Death: 30 August 2006 - Beverly Hills, Los Angeles County, California

3. Gloria Grahame [aka: Gloria Hallward]
Date of Birth: 28 November 1923 - Los Angeles, California
Date of Death: 5 October 1981 - New York City, New York

4. Broderick Crawford
Date of Birth: 9 December 1911 - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Date of Death: 26 April 1986 - Rancho Mirage, California

5. Edgar Buchanan
Date of Birth: 20 March 1903 - Humansville, Missouri
Date of Death: 4 April 1979 - Palm Desert, California

6. Kathleen Case [aka: Catherine Walker]
Date of Birth: 31 July 1933 - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date of Death: 22 July 1979 - North Hollywood, California

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 3 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 4 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 91 min on VHS ~ Columbia Pictures ~ (December 18, 1996)
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on 8 April 2014
A gripping tale, rich in its display of human weakness, evident in various forms, but most of all as jealousy, lust and cunning. It is close to being a film noir, and will keep you in suspense throughout.
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