14 Comments

  1. The post title is accurate. I’ve tried twice to get through this movie and could never get past the middle. It’s a shame since I like much of the talent involved.

  2. Yes Diandra, a hard movie to get through, and with so much acting potential.

    Btw, thanks for the link from your Blog, which I have just become aware of. A good read. I have placed a link on my sidebar.

    Tony

  3. Sam Juliano

    Tony, I did think Steiger was quite effective, and Palance turned in an impressive performance as well. But I agree this film is undistinguished and ultimately unmemorable.

    Keal says:
    “It’s in the same garish genre as THE BAD AND THE BEAUTIFUL. It’s paced too fast and pitched too high; immorality is attacked with almost obscene relish, the knife turns into a buzz saw. Maybe because all these faults of taste you can’t take your eyes of it.”

    Well, I don’t really have any desire to see it again, and your superb review makes no contrary case. Ha!

  4. Funny Sam, I thought Steiger was such a ham in this. But from other reviews I gather his character is a composite of the big shot Hollywood producers of the period, and it may be that the drama queen portrayal is accurate after all!

  5. Dr. Laura

    I agree this is NOT FILM NOIR…. the only similarity is in the darkness and shadows of the storyline… but any cinematographer world balk at the thought that there was “film noir” lighting and staging in this slow moving movie.

  6. Johnny Lagoon

    It may interest you to know that Rod Steiger was close friends with James Dean right around the time he shot this film, and in the final days of Dean’s life, he handed Steiger a copy of Ernest Hemingway’s “Death In The Afternoon” with anything pertaining to a bullfighter’s demise in the ring underlined by Dean’s hand numerous times. It’s also intensely resonant, if not downright chilling, to discover that the initial first showing of “The Big Knife” took place at The Venice Film Festival in Italy on September 10, 1955, a mere 20 days before Dean died.
    Knowing this, the film suddenly leaves the realm of camp or dated melodrama, and cuts much more deeply in ways than anyone may have previously realized.

  7. Johnny Lagoon

    Mr. D’ Ambra: Thank you for your kind reply. Something further for you to meditate upon, in regards to James Dean and “The Big Knife”….a car accident is at the center of
    the film’s blackmail and cover-up plot. Odets may have been florid, but he was never superficial. In this case, he may well have been precognitive.

  8. Johnny Lagoon

    Another interesting footnote is when Steiger’s character contemptuously spits out the word “psychoanalysis” to Palance. It was well known at that time that actors
    such as Brando, Dean, and Clift were in analysis, and that the relation between
    Sigmund Freud and The Method might make for explosive performances, but
    created “difficult” stars in the eyes of the repressed and conservative power
    brokers of mid-1950’s Hollywood.

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