A successful actor is pressured by his studio boss into
a criminal cover-up to protect his valuable career.
The Big Knife (1955)
Directed by Robert Aldrich
Written by James Poe
Starring Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Wendell Corey,
Jean Hagen, Rod Steiger, Wesley Addy, Shelley Winters
Based on the stage play by Clifford Odets
The Big Knife is a fantastic film from the later stages of the film noir era that contains some awesome performances. The screenplay is based on the play from 1949 of the same name by Clifford Odets, which serves greatly for the film as we are in one house pretty much the entire time. Robert Aldrich has me very interested in checking out more stuff from his filmography because the direction is so simple but so smooth.
Charlie Castle is a very successful Hollywood actor who is beginning to question many things about his life. He doesn’t know what he wants from his own marriage or career, but is forced to act quickly because his wife doesn’t want to wait any longer. Charlie’s studio boss, Stanley Hoff also doesn’t care that he wants to think about the art he is making because the mindless stuff sells. He is willing to go as far blackmailing him to get what he wants. Charlie gets pulled and manipulated left and right by people who don’t care about his well being at all until he can’t take it anymore.
Jack Palance delivers an unbelievable performance as Charlie Castle. Palance could lift a scene with his fucking eyebrows back in the day. Rod Steiger is over the top, but the good kind, as studio boss Stanley Hoff. I love watching him gradually start yelling as he gets through each sentence. The Big Knife does some cool stuff with the shit that Hollywood folks do to one another for money. It’s extremely sad when you break it down for what it is, which is entertainment but money is involved with entertainment and money drives people mad.