• Unrated, 1 hr. 30 min.
  • Drama
  • Directed By:
    Fritz Lang
    In Theaters:
    Aug 5, 1954 Wide
    On DVD:
    Jul 6, 2010
  • Columbia Pictures

Opening

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Human Desire Reviews

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Super Reviewer

March 9, 2008
Not as good as The Big Heat but on its own a fine gritty noir. Gloria Grahame is excellent as usual, incredibly alluring but venal and base.
October 11, 2013
An average psychological drama
November 21, 2012
One of the most unpleasant film noir in the genre. But in case of this
movie, it's rather a well-desevred compliment for its hot-edgeness and hardboiled
melodramatic sensations. Human desire aspires to be a hard-hitting, gutsy crime
picture that shows not only a story of romance bound to fail from the
start, but also makes a series of aggressive comments on the topic of
alcoholism and pathology in families.

When Jeff Warren (Glenn Ford) returns home after serving his time in
Korea, his only dream is to return back to his steady job as a train
engineer. Unfortunately, on his way he meets a vulgar, abusive Carl
Buckley (Broderick Crawford). The man is in desperate need of an
intervention in order to keep his job, and begs his beautiful wife
Vicki (Gloria Grahame) to stand by him during the meeting with his
boss. However, due to his alcohol addiction and distorted mind, Carl
thinks that she met with Owens so as to flirt with him. On the train
back Carl kills the man, and Jeff - who was very close to the whole
action - bumps into Vicky and quickly develops feelings for her. She,
on the other hand, wants to take advantage of his generosity. Being
abused by her raging husband, she finds solace in the arms of a
stranger. However, in a small city every rumor spreads faster than the
wind. Carl starts drinking more and more, and blackmails Vicky with a
letter into staying with him for as long as they'll live. Vicky soon
comes up with a devilish plan to get rid of her disgraceful chubby...

The effectiveness of this film owes much to the spellbinding
photography. It portrays not only America's working class, but also
many in-train sequences, which give the film a much-deserved
claustrophobic feel. The intensity of the atmosphere goes through the
roof as the characters argue and fight inside the small compartments,
making their disputes even more dramatic and realistic than they are.
Human Desire may not be Fritz Lang's masterpiece, but it surely
deserves a view, for it is a violently sombre tale about regular
people, who bring about their own demise through a series of tragic
misunderstandings.
August 18, 2011
Good movie. Vicki (Grahame) is a normal house wife, whos life is boring-- until her brute of a husband (Crawford) kills the man who was having an affair with her, right in front of her very eyes. After the incident, hes mean to Vicki, so shes pursues an affair with a veteran (Ford). When they begin to fall in love, Vicki asks him to kill her husband-- will he do it? Human Desire paired up Gloria Grahame and Glenn Ford again after the spectacular The Big Heat. Unfortunately, this movie did not match up to its predecessor, but it was still good. Both Ford and Grahame where great in their roles (even though she looked like a duck because of her botched plastic surgery), as well as the evil Broderick Crawford, who plays the villain perfectly. Usual noir director Fritz Lang did a great job too, and I felt like at this point, it would be impossible to make a bad movie. Besides the weak ending, Human Desire is a good watch that you will enjoy.
David H.
January 21, 2010
An exellent Film Noir Drama directed by the Master Fritz Lang with Gloria Grahama as one of the devious Femme Fatales of Alltime great Directons, great Dialogoes and the Parts are brilliant acted it also shows the Difference between killing a Man in the War and killing a Man as a Civilist in the War you shoot in the Dark on some Moving Thing in a Uniform the Enemy and you can split your Civilist Life and your Soldier Life in two Parts but when you kill a Man from next Near as a Civilist this is a Part of your One Life and most Men can't arrange that with their Conscience
The -Stick
June 9, 2009
Gloria Grahame really shines in this interesting noirish flick from director Fritz Lang. She plays the abused wife of a sadistically jealous husband (Broderick Crawford). She goes from a very sympathetic victim to scheming femme fatale as she tries to seduce a train engineer (Glenn Ford) to help her get "rid" of the husband. A good portion of the drama/suspense unfolds during a train trip as director Lang plays with the different shades of love, desire, lust and jealousy.
8/10
GregDickson
May 20, 2008
Sometimes I wonder as I watch an old movie how they got past the censors of the day. Human Desire is one of those movies. This is one of the most sexually charged, gritty and explicit films from the 1950s that I have seen in a long time.

The plot follows a young train engineer who has just recently returned from the military. This engineer, played by Glenn Ford, returns to his old job and while catching up with friends finds one of his prior colleagues has done very well for himself financially and is now married to a much younger woman named Vicki Buckley (played by Gloria Grahame). He soon starts to discover that there is something suspicious going on between them and as he starts to uncover more and more he also becomes more and more interested in his old friend's wife. Soon, the family he rents a room from and lives with, including a young daughter who has matured into a woman while he was away, start to notice his absence night after night as well as many phone calls between him and Vicki Buckley.

All the actors in this film did a fantastic job portraying their parts. Gloria Grahame and Broderick Crawford especially stand out as the newly married couple. Gloria Grahame who I recently saw in In a Lonely Place with Humphrey Bogart appears to be a real chameleon and a very accomplished actress. Her performance is fantastic. She straddles the line of sympathetic victim and ominous temptress perfectly always leaving the audience somewhat off balance, but completely riveted at the same time.

Her husband, played by Broderick Crawford is also perfect for his part. His character is gruff and intimidating but also jealous and insecure which must have been a difficult blend of emotions to characterize.

This movie was also very interesting in how it gave a fresh take on the femme fatale as well as its exploration of male-female relationships.

Visually speaking this is a very enjoyable movie to watch as it masterfully sets the mood through the cinematography, including the use of light and dark. Certain frames are so dark one can hardly make out anything until a perfectly timed splash of light illuminates the frame and furthers the story.

This is a great character driven story about the darkest of human desires.
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