Thursday, May 31, 2012

THE BIG KNIFE (1955) - Robert Aldrich

Wikipedia calls this one film noir. IMDB seems to concur. I'd say it's more Hollywood melodrama. Jack Palance plays a whiny big box office draw with INTEGRITY who wants out of his contract. Ida Lupino plays his straying wife. Shelly Winters plays (surprise!) a lush. Rod Steiger overplays a caricature of an evil studio boss.

The script by Clifford Odets is stilted, overbearing and preachy, about what you would expect from a playwright who went slumming in Hollywood, made a few bucks, then decided to bite the hand that fed. Normally, I'd be the target audience for this sort of thing. Barton Fink covered similar territory later and better. I suspect the Coens screened The Big Knife at some point during their writing, chuckled all the way through, then added wrestlers, heads in boxes and peeling wallpaper.

1 comment:

Reel Popcorn Junkie said...

You're awfully tough on The Big Knife. The casting of Jack Palance is a good choice. Here's a Hollywood tough guy, just a few years after Shane, cast as an actor whose life is falling apart. He can't stand up to his boss. His wife is jumping ship. The screenplay offers many choices of sharp dialogue too.