The audience meets some wretched characters on the railroad in this adaptation of the
Emile Zola novel, The Human Beast. A French
picturization of the work was done earlier
with heavy accent on psychological study of
an alcohol-crazed killer.
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.
At the outset the screenplay provides much
conversation about the fact that Glenn Ford,
who's back on the job as an engineer, had
been fighting the war in Korea. There's not
much point to this, considering that Ford's
background has little bearing on the yarn.
Broderick Crawford, Gloria Grahame and
Ford make a brooding, sordid triangle, hopelessly involved. Crawford is utterly frustrated
in his effort to please his wife (Grahame) and
stay on an even keel with his heartless boss.
Grahame is a miserable character, alternately denying and admitting she has given
herself to other men. Ford dates Grahame
and toys with the idea of murdering her husband.