Human Desire (1954) - Rotten Tomatoes

Human Desire1954

Human Desire (1954)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Human Desire Photos

Movie Info

After being fired by the railroad, Carl Buckley (Broderick Crawford) returns home, where his femme fatale wife Vicki (Gloria Grahame) initially sympathizes with his plight. However, she resists Carl's plea to ask Mr. Owens (Grandon Rhodes), an old friend and major freight customer of the railroad, to intercede on his behalf. She finally relents, and they go to the city, where Vicki meets with Owens. When she is successful, Carl accuses her of having an affair with him. He forces Vicki to write a letter arranging to meet Owens on the train. Carl accompanies Vicki to Owens's compartment where he kills him and retrieves the letter to use against Vicki. Spotting Jeff Warren (Glenn Ford), an old railroad buddy and not wanting to be seen, Carl insists that Vicki distract Jeff. Vicki seduces him, beginning an affair in which she so bewitches Jeff that he agrees to kill her husband. An American version of Jean Renoir's version of Emile Zola's novel La Bete Humaine, Fritz Lang's Human Desire is a tragic reminder that jealousy is a self-fulfilling prophecy.


Glenn Ford
as Jeff Warren
Gloria Grahame
as Vicki Buckley
Broderick Crawford
as Carl Buckley
Edgar Buchanan
as Alec Simmons
Kathleen Case
as Ellen Simmons
Diane DeLaire
as Vera Simmons
Grandon Rhodes
as John Owens
Dan Seymour
as Bartender
John Pickard
as Matt Henley
Paul Brinegar
as Brakeman
Dan Riss
as Prosecutor Gruber
John Zaremba
as Russell
Carl Lee
as John Thurston
View All

Critic Reviews for Human Desire

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (5)

Though the action pivots on blackmail and murder, the heart of the movie is a regular guy's struggle with the inner violence of sexual frenzy and the outer violence of war.

October 15, 2014 | Full Review…

Fritz Lang, director, goes overboard in his effort to create mood. Long focusing on locomotive speeding and twisting on the rails is neither entertaining nor essential to the plot.

March 26, 2009 | Full Review…

There 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.

March 25, 2006 | Full Review…

Lang's version of Zola's La Bête Humaine is, like all his best '50s work, as cold, hard and steely grey as the railway tracks which here mark out the action.

February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

A gripping melodrama.

May 10, 2001 | Full Review…

...a fairly standard film-noir thriller that's elevated by its surprising narrative and proliferation of compelling performances...

October 3, 2021 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Human Desire

In "Human Desire," Jeff Warren(Glenn Ford) is just back from the wars and at his job as a train engineer. At work, he encounters Carl Buckley(Broderick Crawford), a friend, who soon enough loses his job in a fight with management. So, Carl travels to the city with his wife Vicki(Gloria Grahame) to get his job back. Which she does. But when it takes much, much longer than he originally thought, this only goes to fuel his jealousy. Directed by Fritz Lang with no small amount of relish, "Human Desire" is not just a very good crime movie of the era it was made in, but also one very much ahead of its time. First, it is still the rare movie to point out when an older man is paired with a much younger woman which is usually still taken for granted. Second and more importantly is how the movie is also very honest about domestic violence, even if the vocabulary did not yet exist when this was made.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

Not as good as The Big Heat but on its own a fine gritty noir. Gloria Grahame is excellent as usual, incredibly alluring but venal and base.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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