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Home » DVD Category: B » Big Knife, The

Big Knife, The (1955)

Starring: Jack Palance, Rod Steiger   [See details]
Directed by: Robert Aldrich
Runtime:1 hour and 53 minutes
MPAA rating:Rated NR
Genre(s): Drama, Noir
Synopsis:THE BIG KNIFE, adapted from Clifford Odets's gripping play, is a dark, cynical probing of the film industry's behemoth studio system. When matinee idol Charlie Castle (Jack Palance) refuses to renew his studio contract, his career begins to take a turn for the worse. As autocratic movie mogul Stanley Hoff (Rod Steiger) stoops to blackmail to force him back onto the lot, Castle must also deal with being supported by his angry ex-wife, Marion (Ida Lupino). Director Robert Aldrich (THE DIRTY DOZEN) enfolds his critique of Hollywood's warped dream factory in a melancholic and mysterious psychodrama, and Palance is unnervingly convincing in the part of the washed-up Tinseltown star.
Catalog #:MDVD-114
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Brief Cast Overview
Jack Palance    ...    Charles Castle
Rod Steiger    ...    Stanley Shriner Hoff
Shelley Winters    ...    Dixie Evans
Jean Hagen    ...    Connie Bliss

Technical Specification
Encoding: Region 0*  [See details]
Format:    Not available
Color: Not available
Edition: Import
Language: English
Sound: Not available
Subtitles: Not available
*DVD will play on any regional DVD player

Film Review
"The Big Knife" is no infomercial for Henckel's cutlery, nor Ginsu knives, nor is it Disney treacle. What it is, is an unflinching look at the hidden face of the Hollywood studio system, a film made powerful through Robert Aldrich's direction as through the performances of its actors and actresses. It stars Jack Palance as burned-out movie idol Charlie Castle, Ida Lupino as his wife, Shelley Winters as a starlet, veteran Everett Sloane as his agent, and, most memorably, Rod Steiger as his implacable boss, studio mogul Stanley Hoff. Booze, sex, murder, and blackmail are part of the story as Hoff uses all means fair and foul to keep his prize cash machine in line. Steiger's rendition, alternating from sugary sweetness to iron menace as the ruthless studio boss, is a must-see over-the-top performance that tops Joe Pesci. Palance also turns in a very good performance, probably the best in his career, and it makes one regret that he did not get more top roles. "The Big Knife's" only real flaw is that it is perhaps too unremitting, too bleak in its outlook, and perhaps a bit too static. Nevertheless, this undeservedly obscure motion picture combines all the elements that make for a great film: story, direction, performance. 

Rating:  (4.5 out of 5 stars)

- John E. Epson
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