Today: February 22, 2024

Human Desire

She was born to be bad… to be kissed…to make trouble…” so ran the tag line for Human DesireFritz Lang’s 1954 noir thriller. 

A chillingly dark film, Human Desire reunited Lang with Glenn Ford and Gloria Grahame from the previous year’s The Big Heat with the screenwriter of Lang’s 1952 noir, Clash by Night, Alfred Hayes.

Adapted from Émile Zola’s La Bête Humaine, Lang’s gripping thriller has Ford as train engineer, Jeff, just home from the Korean War. He’s instantly attracted to Vicki (Grahame), not yet realising that she’s the abused wife of his railroad yard superior Carl (Broderick Crawford)–or that Vicki was just entangled in a jealousy-fuelled murder committed by Carl.

However, while the film posters of the era were keen to play up the steamy, femme fatale angle, Grahame is far from the usual hard-bitte, ice queen. Rather it quickly becomes clear that she is very much the victim. Although by no means an innocent, the fact that it’s she who ultimately pays the price for actions of others reinforces Lang’s pitch black themes. Not only is this is a world where women have little value beyond their physical charms but their wickedness will be the ruin of us all. 

Human Desire doesn’t have the instant appeal of The Big Sleep, nor are its characters particularly appealing. But what Lang has created here is in many ways the ultimate expression of noir sensibilties: a bleak drama in which there are no good guys or bad guys, just humankind at its most brutal and uncaring.

The Masters of Cinema’s remastered edition presents one of this brilliant filmmaker’s most underrated films for the first time ever on Blu-ray. Duel format special features include an exclusive interview with film historian Tony Rayns and a 40-page collector’s booklet.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email:

Previous Story

The Guilty

Next Story

The Cinematic History of Steven Spielberg

Latest from Blog


Memory (2023)

Memory is an exquisite American drama in the tender embrace of Michel Franco’s cinematic prowess.

Slaughter in San Francisco

A gloriously trashy slice of kung fu film-making, Slaughter in San Francisco, AKA Yellow-Faced Tiger, was producer Raymond Chow’s attempt to capitalise on Hong Kong cinema’s sudden explosion of popularity in the West. Released in 1974,

Head Count

That the Burghart Brothers know how to make a fun film is apparent five minutes into Head Count. The fact that they’ve been able to produce such a deliciously slick, dark comedy,

The Daleks in Colour Unboxing

BBC took a big risk with The Daleks in Colour – fans of Doctor Who are notorious for their passionate and purist approach to their beloved series, so to not only colourise
Go toTop

Don't Miss

The House Across The Lake

Sometimes you stumble across a film from a well known


Based on Osamu Tezuka’s comic book by the same name,