"Film Noir That Stays Firmly On Track"
Fritz Lang's contemporary (for 1954) movie version of Emile Zola's 1890 novel of love, lust, betrayal and violence gets a dual format release from Eureka.
Jeff Warren (Glenn Ford) is just back from the war in Korea. He resumes his job as a train driver and rents a room at the house of fellow engineer Alec Simmons (Edgar Buchanan). Simmons' daughter Ellen (Kathleen Simmons very much looking as if she was the inspiration for Sherilyn Fenn's character Audrey in David Lynch's Twin Peaks) has the hots for him, but one night he bumps into Vicki (Gloria Grahame), the wife of Jeff's heavy drinking, insanely jealous superior Carl Buckley (Broderick Crawford).
What Jeff doesn't realise at the time is that Vicki is married, nor that she has just been an accessory to her husband murdering a man he suspected of being her lover. Jeff and Vicki begin an affair. Vicki tells Jeff Carl is blackmailing her. If only Carl was out of the way they could be together. Perhaps an accident on the railway...
Stylish and grim, Fritz Lang's noir is set almost entirely in and around the world of the railroad, giving it the kind of industrial, soot-stained, smoke-filled feel that would be utilised so well by David Lynch in his early features, which makes you wonder if that director was profoundly influenced by this very film. While the Simmons family are there to show us some 'good' characters, they barely get a look in as Lang concentrates on his three leads, whose parts are played as glorious examples of morally dubious humanity by Ford, Grahame and Crawford.
Eureka's Blu-ray offers us a 1080p presentation. As an extra you get Tony Rayns talking about the film for half an hour. There's also a 40 page booklet featuring new writing on the film from Travis Crawford, Richard Combs and Adam Batty.
Stylish and brutally cynical, HUMAN DESIRE is apparently one of Fritz Lang's more underrated films. It's certainly worth catching up with as a fine example of small town noir. And it has trains in it.
Fritz Lang's HUMAN DESIRE is out on dual format from Eureka on Monday 18th February 2019