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Human Desire

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Title: Human Desire  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: Gloria Grahame, Carl Lee (actor), La Bête humaine, Les Rougon-Macquart, Broderick Crawford
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Human Desire

Human Desire
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Fritz Lang
Produced by Lewis J. Rachmil
Screenplay by Alfred Hayes
Based on the novel La Bête humaine
1890 novel 
by Émile Zola
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography Burnett Guffey
Edited by Aaron Stell
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • August 15, 1954 (1954-08-15) (United States)
Running time
91 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Human Desire is a 1954 black-and-white film noir directed by Fritz Lang, starring Glenn Ford. It is loosely based on the novel La Bête humaine, by Émile Zola. The story had been filmed twice before: La Bête humaine (1938) directed by Jean Renoir and Die Bestie im Menschen starring Ilka Grüning (1920).


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • Reception 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Railroad supervisor Carl Buckley (Broderick Crawford) gets fired from his job. He persuades his seductive wife to pay a visit to an important railroad customer in order to try to get his job back. When Buckley suspects that his sexy, younger wife Vicki (Gloria Grahame) has done more than just talk with the rich old magnate John Owens (Grandon Rhodes), he smacks her around. He then jealously stalks his rival, finally stabbing him to death in a train compartment. Locomotive engineer and Korean War vet, Jeff Warren (Glenn Ford) observed Vicki in the vicinity of the murder, but shields her at the inquest, as she sets his pulse racing. The two begin an affair which is hard to keep quiet in such a small town. Vicki then starts scheming for Warren to kill her increasingly drunk and violent husband.



This film was largely shot in the vicinity of El Reno, Oklahoma.[1] It used the facilities of what was at the time the Rock Island railroad (now Union Pacific),[2] though some of the moving background shots show East Coast scenes such as bridges.


Critic Dave Kehr wrote of the film, "Gloria Grahame, at her brassiest, pleads with Glenn Ford to do away with her slob of a husband, Broderick Crawford...A gripping melodrama, marred only by Ford's inability to register an appropriate sense of doom."[3] Variety wrote that Lang "goes overboard in his effort to create mood".[4] Bosley Crowther of The New York Times wrote, "[T]here 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."[5]


  1. ^ Medley, Robert (June 26, 1989). "USAO to Preserve State History at Film Repository".  
  2. ^ Carr, Jay (September 1, 2006). "Glenn Ford; actor's demeanor, quiet decency reflected an era".  
  3. ^ Kehr, Dave. Chicago Reader, review, 2008. Last accessed: January 27, 2007.
  4. ^ "Review: ‘Human Desire’".  
  5. ^ Crowther, Bosley (August 7, 1954). "Human Desire (1954)".  

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