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The Big Knife Blu-ray Review

Big Knife

“The Big Knife” is an uneven but engaging film noir.

Based on a play by Clifford Odets, “The Big Knife” is a 1955 film noir about an actor (Charles Castle) whose life is falling apart. Not only is Charles on the verge of a divorce, but he’s being pressured to sign a 7 year studio contract that doesn’t interest him to cover-up a nasty scandal that is eating away at him. Can Charles fix his life or is he doomed?

Like a good number of stage to film adaptations, director Robert Aldrich’s “The Big Knife” suffers a bit as the film feels very stagey, dialogue heavy, melodramatic and not very cinematic due to its extremely limited locations. If you can look past all of that, however, you’ll find a solid character study/film noir about the dark side of Hollywood. Granted, it’s not remotely subtle, but it still keeps you invested in wanting to see how it plays out. Luckily, the movie sticks the landing and makes the sometimes sluggish pacing worthwhile.

The real reason to watch “The Big Knife” isn’t the script or direction but rather the cast which includes Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Rod Steiger, and Shelley Winters. While the rest of the cast give reliably strong performances, it is Jack Palance and Rod Steiger who elevate the movie to another level. You can call it big acting, you can call it campy, you can even call it hammy, but one thing is for sure, these two actors make choices in their work. Rod Steiger seems to be playing a weird, egotistical Marlon Brando esque studio head who is constantly chewing the scenery. Jack Palance, meanwhile, is delving into the head of a troubled movie star. For the most part, Palance plays it serious, but whenever he’s on screen with Steiger, it becomes like an acting game with the two trying to one up the other. It’s really quite a sight to behold for fans of cinema wanting to see something truly over-the-top.


Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The film has been given a 2K restoration and for the most part it’s a solid transfer. While the appearance of grain may bother some, the hi-def clarity is certainly noticeable.

Audio Track: Uncompressed LPCM. How does it sound? It certainly sounds like a flat Mono track but it’s adequate enough.

Extras: * A booklet featuring credits, photos, and essays by film historian Nathalie Morris and writer Gerald Perry. * “The Big Knife” trailer and TV promo. * “Bass On Titles”- Saul Bass (who did the titles for “The Big Knife”) talks about film titles he worked on in this 33 minute documentary * A personable and informative commentary by film critics Glenn Kenny and Nick Pinkerton.

September 7, 2017 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , , ,

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