The year is 1952, Jean Renoir La Bete Humaine (1938) is being revisited by Fritz Lang. He has Broderick Crawford, Gloria Grahame and Glenn Ford. The story was ripe for late Film Noir. Jeff (Ford) fought in the Korean war and now works on the railroad. After a short trip to the city, he must return to his depot and the iron beasts. However while idiling the time away inbetween the cars, smoking and dreaming he meets fellow traveller Vicki (Grahame). Desire takes over and they rush head long into an affair. However Vicki has a problem. Her husband has just murdered a man. He is the jealous kind. He is also blackmailing her. You see the man he murdered had a secret. He desired Vicki and being the man she needed to get her husband his job back, well you can guess how that went. Vicki wants to turn the tables. This is where Jeff comes into the picture…
Fritz Lang has been well travelled as a film director in the academic field. No bad thing for the director of M, THE BIG HEAT, METROPOLIS and FURY. Sadly some of his work has been lost in the noise of these titans. HUMAN DESIRE is one of those films. It is also by no means near Lang at his best. The story is a limp retelling of a powerful film. La Bete Humaine was Renoir third greatest film. He was as prolific a film director as Lang and nearly as good. Lang seemingly fails to inject HUMAN DESIRE with tension, tone or bite. If compaired to his one year later THE BIG HEAT, it lacks that films punch, raw energy and sexual dynamism. This hurts writing the lack of appreciation but it is fair to do so. If you want the best of Lang, avoid this. If you are a completist, then buy.
The 1080p is not stunning. It lacks some of the rich definition that the image and film craves. However I am sure that Burnett Guffey, the prolific cinematographer and film noir master, would be very saddened by the transfer. The best thing on the disc and in the set is new and exclusive interview with film historian Tony Rayns. I have been hard on the often heard Rayns, about him giving others a chance etc. However here he is the best person to go to…
- 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
- PLUS: A Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film alongside rare archival imagery