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Author Topic: The Big Knife (1955)  (Read 843 times)
cigar joe
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« on: February 07, 2013, 07:42:37 AM »

Director: Robert Aldrich, Writers: James Poe (adapted for the screen by), Clifford Odets (stage play)
Stars: Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Wendell Corey, Rod Steiger


January 23, 2013, 02:50:42 AM          
Quote from: drinkanddestroy on January 22, 2013, 10:53:36 AM
The Big Knife (1955) 9/10

this movie has the greatest Jack Palance performance I've seen yet. Ida Lupino is incredible as well. Rod Steiger is hilariously awesome as a bleach-blonde nutjob of a Hollywood studio chief

cigar joe

1/10 insufferable, I hated it,  on TCM the other night (the second time I've watched it now). Visually barren  

An IMDb reviewer puts my thoughts to words:

Words, words, words, words, words..., 20 June 2008

Author: T Y from United States

The quality you're likely to remember after viewing The Big Knife is how claustrophobic it is. It's pacing is sacrificed to a uniform texture of dialog. It's talky in the extreme. Modern viewers will feel every point has been made (and then some) but the movie will still not move on, or do the viewer a favor and change the scenery. It's very inert. At the 45 min mark I was sure I had watched two very slow hours. My beleaguered response was, "Good God, where is this going?" It feels like Odets was paid by the word...

This is a good place to note the decline of drama from it's high point in the 40s through the conceit-laden projects of the 50s and 60s until actual filmic merit was rediscovered in the 70s, only to vanish again. Here we get show-offy, conventional, emotional outbursts from Steiger, Lupino et al. and camera moves pre-arranged to meet over-practiced blocking. This is due to the rise of the Method; the regrettable trend of sacrificing every other merit of film, to grant actors their most selfish wishes. "Great acting," ho-hum, has killed thought in movies.

Jack Palance's forehead & pompadour retract and thrust forward every time he reacts to something. It's disturbing.

This is awfully boring stuff.


drinkanddestroy

I figured that lots of people will think it's awful, that it would get very extreme grades either way.

As for the comments by and that imdb reviewer about dialogue and scenery: this is a play. what did he expect, a car chase through the streets of Hollywood? A play is basically on one set. And typically will have lots of dialogue. Of course, when turning a play into a screenplay, the writer may "open it up" a bit, eg. by adding in a few scenes in another setting. And indeed, there is a scene here when Jack Palance calls Shelley Winters at the party taking place in another house. Also, there are some scenes set in the backyard.

But, whatever you thought of the movie, the fact that there is lots of dialogue and little change of scenery is what you get when watching a movie based on a play. That person's comment "do the viewer a favor and change the scenery" is laughable. If he doesn't like watching a movie where there is little change of scenery, then he shouldn't be watching movies based on plays

Stiff and endless, 28 June 2003

Author: alankohn@erols.com from Berwyn, PA

First of all, this most definitely is not a film to be called "film noir." It is a straightforward, talkative melodrama without a trace of improvisation or fluidity. Considering the time of its release (1955), I am more likely to see the studio boss as a metaphor for the gutless, immoral Congressional blackmailers who tried their best to ruin Hollywood.

Palance is awkward and stiff, flopping himself around from bar stool to sofa like a beached whale, taking the punch out of the script. I would have casted Burt Lancaster, a most subtle and gracefully athletic actor, for the part. Perhaps then I would have not kept waiting for the banal series of "can you top this?" entrances and exits to cease.

Look elsewhere.



« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 03:49:54 AM by cigar joe » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2013, 12:39:03 PM »

Broadway revival coming soon!

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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2013, 03:36:15 AM »

Lupino and Palance deliver one of the next combined performances by a male-female lead


Lupino has that great Golden Age voice: the starlets who smoked for years, she has this great smoker's voice

definitely my fave Palance performance.

« Last Edit: February 16, 2013, 04:48:20 PM by drinkanddestroy » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2013, 08:01:08 PM »

I hated this too. The pacing was so off, it was so dull visually and this is the same year that Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly was released. I remember it took me like 4 hours to watch this movie because I kept taking breaks. I should have just pulled the plug.

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« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2013, 02:26:17 AM »

Not bad, too much theatre in it concerning dialogues and acting. Aldrich's nervous style helps to save it.

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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2017, 11:57:43 AM »

Blu coming to the US market via Arrow:
Quote
Special Features:

Brand-new 2K restoration from original film elements produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
Original English mono audio uncompressed LPCM
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
Commentary by film critics Glenn Kenny and Nick Pinkerton, recorded exclusively for this release
Bass on Titles Saul Bass, responsible for The Big Knife s credit sequence, discusses some of his classic work in this self-directed documentary from 1972
Theatrical trailer
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips
First pressing only: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nathalie Morris

U.S. STREET DATE AUGUST 29.

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« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2017, 02:45:31 PM »

definitely my fave Palance performance.
Goes well with his other so-bad-it's-good performance, the one in Sudden Fear (1952). He plays a ham actor in that one, too.

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