Human Desire on Blu-ray

Monday, 25 February 2019 14:21

Fritz Lang’s seedy film-noir stars Glenn Ford (“Superman”) as Jeff Warren, an army vet returning home from the Korean War to his job as a train engineer. Highly susceptible to feminine wiles, Jeff falls for the young wife of Deputy Yard Master Carl Buckley (Broderick Crawford – “All the King’s Men”). That would be trouble enough but Carl is highly suspicious of his young wife, and unbeknownst to Jeff he has already committed murder in a fit of jealous rage.

The film focuses on this twisted love triangle, with femme fatale Vicki (Gloria Grahame – “It’s a Wonder Life”) both manipulating the two men but also trapped by Carl in a hellish relationship through blackmail. Director Lang (“Metropolis”, “M”) sucks us into his dark romantic web as we wonder whether Jeff can extricate himself before he too succumbs to Carl’s furious, drunken temper.

“Human Desire” has all the classic ingredients of a sordid thriller, with added trains. Indeed, the trains are an extra character in the film, providing a near-permanent on-screen and off-screen presence that often emphasises the narrative. For example, rumbling locomotive noise illustrates the subtext of aching desire, train whistles put us on edge and sound the alarm, and the towering, blunted engines seem to represent the thunderous, overpowering presence of Carl.

The movie’s soundtrack matches the train motif, sometimes buoyant and care-free, chugging along but also becoming discordant and unsettling when events turn nasty.

There are not many characters in this film, and barely anyone comes out smelling of roses except perhaps Alec (Edgar Buchanan – “Shane”) - another colleague of Jeff’s – and Alec’s daughter Ellen (Kathleen Case – “Running Wild”), an alternative, much brighter love interest option for Jeff.

The movie is very loosely based on Émile Zola’s novel ‘La Bête Humaine’, though as film historian Tony Rayns explains in one of the extras, it is more closely related to a French film by Jean Renoir that in turn took Zola’s tale as its basis.

Fans of film-noir and other thrillers about temptation and deeply flawed characters being awful to each other will definitely find much to enjoy in this Blu-ray release; the high definition presentation is pretty sharp despite some fine graining and occasional shimmer.

Special features include:

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray (with a progressive encode on the DVD)
  • LPCM Mono audio
  • Optional English SDH subtitles
  • A new and exclusive interview with film historian Tony Rayns
  • 40-page collector's booklet featuring new writing on the film by film historian Travis Crawford, critic and author Richard Combs, and writer Adam Batty, alongside rare archival imagery.

“Human Desire” (1954) is out now, courtesy of Eureka Entertainment Ltd. The main feature has a running time of 91 minutes approx., carries a ‘PG’ certificate and retails for £19.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

Last modified on Monday, 04 March 2019 14:24

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