Human Desire (1954)

Human Desire (1954)



Human Desire Photos

Movie Info

After being fired by the railroad, Carl Buckley (Broderick Crawford) returns home, where his femme fatale wife Vicki (Gloria Grahame) initially sympathizes with his plight. However, she resists Carl's plea to ask Mr. Owens (Grandon Rhodes), an old friend and major freight customer of the railroad, to intercede on his behalf. She finally relents, and they go to the city, where Vicki meets with Owens. When she is successful, Carl accuses her of having an affair with him. He forces Vicki to write a letter arranging to meet Owens on the train. Carl accompanies Vicki to Owens's compartment where he kills him and retrieves the letter to use against Vicki. Spotting Jeff Warren (Glenn Ford), an old railroad buddy and not wanting to be seen, Carl insists that Vicki distract Jeff. Vicki seduces him, beginning an affair in which she so bewitches Jeff that he agrees to kill her husband. An American version of Jean Renoir's version of Emile Zola's novel La Bete Humaine, Fritz Lang's Human Desire is a tragic reminder that jealousy is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Rating: NR
Genre: Drama
Directed By: Fritz Lang
Written By: Alfred Hayes , Lawrence V. Hayes
In Theaters: wide
Columbia Pictures


Glenn Ford
as Jeff Warren
Gloria Grahame
as Vicki Buckley
Broderick Crawford
as Carl Buckley
Edgar Buchanan
as Alec Simmons
Kathleen Case
as Ellen Simmons
Diane DeLaire
as Vera Simmons
Grandon Rhodes
as John Owens
Dan Seymour
as Bartender
John Pickard
as Matt Henley
Paul Brinegar
as Brakeman
Dan Riss
as Prosecutor Gruber
John Zaremba
as Russell
Carl Lee
as John Thurston
Olan Soule
as Lewis
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Human Desire

Critic Reviews for Human Desire

All Critics (11) | Top Critics (5)

Though the action pivots on blackmail and murder, the heart of the movie is a regular guy's struggle with the inner violence of sexual frenzy and the outer violence of war.

Full Review… | October 15, 2014
New Yorker
Top Critic

Fritz Lang, director, goes overboard in his effort to create mood. Long focusing on locomotive speeding and twisting on the rails is neither entertaining nor essential to the plot.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

There isn't a single character in it for whom it builds up the slightest sympathy -- and there isn't a great deal else in it for which you're likely to have the least regard.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Lang's version of Zola's La Bête Humaine is, like all his best '50s work, as cold, hard and steely grey as the railway tracks which here mark out the action.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A gripping melodrama.

Full Review… | May 10, 2001
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A superb, highly polished example of Lang's craft.

Full Review… | January 27, 2015
Combustible Celluloid

Audience Reviews for Human Desire

In "Human Desire," Jeff Warren(Glenn Ford) is just back from the wars and at his job as a train engineer. At work, he encounters Carl Buckley(Broderick Crawford), a friend, who soon enough loses his job in a fight with management. So, Carl travels to the city with his wife Vicki(Gloria Grahame) to get his job back. Which she does. But when it takes much, much longer than he originally thought, this only goes to fuel his jealousy. Directed by Fritz Lang with no small amount of relish, "Human Desire" is not just a very good crime movie of the era it was made in, but also one very much ahead of its time. First, it is still the rare movie to point out when an older man is paired with a much younger woman which is usually still taken for granted. Second and more importantly is how the movie is also very honest about domestic violence, even if the vocabulary did not yet exist when this was made.

Walter M.
Walter M.

lang directs this awesome noir movie, with grahame ("the big heat") rolls out her femme fatale but u never really know til the end who side shes on

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

Not as good as Renoir's version of the same material. There's too much emphasis on the returning-from-war angle, and the femme fatale is not all that fatale. Nice train photography though, if you're into that sort of thing.

Shawn Towner
Shawn Towner

Discussion Forum

Discuss Human Desire on our Movie forum!

News & Features