Rotten Tomatoes

Movies / TV


      No Results Found

      View All
      Movies Tv shows Shop News Showtimes

      The Big Knife

      1955 1h 51m Drama List
      91% Tomatometer 11 Reviews 60% Audience Score 250+ Ratings Movie star Charlie Castle (Jack Palance) draws the ire of Hollywood producer Stanley Hoff (Rod Steiger) when he refuses to sign a new seven-year contract. Castle is sick of the low quality of the studio's films and wants to start a new life. While his estranged wife (Ida Lupino) supports him in the decision, Castle's talent agent (Everett Sloane) urges him to reconsider. When Castle continues to be uncooperative, Hoff resorts to blackmail in order to get his way. Read More Read Less

      Critics Reviews

      View All (11) Critics Reviews
      Jerry Tallmer Village Voice Rarely have I been as morbidly fascinated by anything on screen as by The Big Knife. Jul 27, 2021 Full Review Matt Brunson Film Frenzy A Clifford Odets theatrical piece morphs into a Hollywood-insider movie, and while the staginess remains, it actually suits this claustrophobic story. Rated: 3/4 Oct 6, 2021 Full Review Yasser Medina Cinefilia Its critique of the Hollywood's studio system is as sharp as a knife. [Full review in Spanish] Rated: 7/10 Mar 19, 2021 Full Review Clyde Gilmour Maclean's Magazine Overwrought and arty though it is in its less beguiling moments, this is an interesting melodrama... Dec 5, 2019 Full Review A.S. Hamrah n+1 [Steiger] explodes like a neutron bomb, leaving the set standing but obliterating the people. Nov 29, 2018 Full Review Paul Parcellin Film Threat Fortunately, an outstanding cast helps make the transition from stage to screen a success. Rated: 8/10 Feb 26, 2018 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

      View All (39) audience reviews
      Martin B Oh sure. An idealist that spends most of his time whining about his career and relationship with his wife kills himself because he cares so much about hurting others he loves. Or equally as likely he kills himself because he's guilty of immoral behavior at the least that resulted in someone elses death and he feels guilty. My goodness the writer of this tale sure made every character that represented studio ownership, it's publicist and the agent the personification of all the most negative stereotypes that could be imagined. It's a horrible, ill conceived play actually loaded with great actors that doesn't have any slow moments but all based on a flawed premise. Acting by it's very nature is self indulgent and highly narcisistic and the idea this guy is some wide eyed idealist is nonsense. What was interesting was seeing perpetual tough guy Jack Palance playing a whiny, pseudo intellectual, introspective complainer having his life in it's entirety controlled by others. Terrible movie but very entertaining. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/06/23 Full Review matthew d Riveting play brought to life with devastating emotional realness. Director Robert Aldrich's drama The Big Knife (1955) traps you in an actor's home the entire duration of the film in a closed set play style picture and it's enthralling. Aldrich finds new and intriguing ways to keep you looking at this house with fresh eyes. Cinematographer Ernest Laszlo's shots are engrossing with neat perspective tricks to make this small space feel boundless as characters enter and exit at will. Composer Frank De Vol's jazz score adds a hazy atmosphere and adds some excitement, but can also be maddening and annoying. The Big Knife has few flaws, but is mostly excellent. I was surprisingly not bored by this choice by Aldrich to make The Big Knife closely resemble playwright Clifford Odets' original play. It does drag the pacing down a bit to a slow burn and at 111 minutes, this may turn some away. Michael Luciano's editing cuts sharply, but perhaps not enough to keep you glued to the screen. However, I was genuinely engaged and entertained by the larger than life melodramatic performances from the all star cast of character actors. Jack Palance plays his sullen and dejected actor Charles Castle with a poetic remorse and faraway gaze that is captivating. His depression and frustrations at his life, career, and marriage falling apart is sympathetic and interesting to witness. Palance plays it all so serious that you cannot help, but feel bad for this strangely forlorn star in decline. Screenwriter James Poe brings out playwright Clifford Odets' frustrations with Hollywood's controlling studio system and abusive producers in a cruel world. Every word feels deliberate and scathing throughout The Big Knife. Ida Lupino is heartfelt and tender as Charlie's wife Marion Castle. Her desire to leave this failed marriage in divorce is clear due to Lupino's upset face and hurt expressions. Wendell Corey is so callous and shallow as the stern middleman for the studio Smiley Coy. Jean Hagen's flirty Connie Bliss is fun opposite Palance's stern Charles and Paul Langton's defeated Buddy Bliss. Make-up artist Louis Hippe made Ida Lupino and Shelley Winters shine with an endearing radiance. Rod Steiger channels his inner Marlon Brando for Stanley Hoff the fearsome studio producer with a menacing gravitas with each biting word. Shelley Winters is gorgeous and playful as the drunkard actress Dixie Evans upset over Hollywood's cruel system. Ilka Chase is so mean and nosey as the columnist Patty Benedict, while Everett Sloane is compassionate and compelling as the Palance's agent Nat. Wesley Addy is stoic, yet profound as Hank, and Nick Dennis ends up getting you shocked with his final lines as Mickey. Overall, The Big Knife is nice with thoughtful writing and commanding acting from the ensemble. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Tom M The movie is 111 minutes long. That's about 80 minutes too long. The story is so dull and drawn out and the viewer just keeps waiting for something to happen. The premise that an actress would be murdered for a trivial matter is absurd. Palance, Lupina and Winters act well but the remainder of the cast are awful. Rated 1 out of 5 stars 03/02/21 Full Review Audience Member Ridiculous dialogue, stagey, over-the-top acting. There's not much good to say about this one other than to see Palance in an unusual role. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Audience Member To be a major Hollywood star is not all that it's cracked up to be. Perks are always available and idolization is a given, sure, but the redundancy of being treated like a piece of meat and not a breathing, feeling, human, is something that can get to you. Some are able to handle the phony nature of Tinsel Town, but most aren't - the number of tragic figures within the cinematic side of show business is staggering. Even death is sprayed with a scent of otherworldly romanticism. In a land of people trying to get ahead, it's only predictable that cutthroat action have debilitating effects. Take the identity crisis "The Big Knife's" Charlie Castle (Jack Palance) is having, for example. A heavyweight who has drank from the goblet of fame for a number of years, Charlie has survived as an actor of the John Garfield type throughout his career. Adoring fans are still as present as they were in his younger days. Studio heads still want him for their latest box-office smash. He has it all. But, nearing forty, he's in the beginning stages of an early midlife crisis. He's not so sure he can take stardom for much longer, especially now that his wife (Ida Lupino) is on the verge of leaving him because of his occupation and because of his tendency to cheat. Like a male, 1950s era Bette Davis, he's ready to fight his way out of his present studio contract - but things aren't as simple as he'd like them to be. Charlie is unable to free himself of celebrity due to a single issue that will likely haunt him for the rest of his life. Years back, he was involved in a hit-and-run accident that the studio covered up. As a result, he's been blackmailed by his boss (Rod Steiger) into staying in the profession. The film opens just as Charlie's contract is about to expire, his employer willing to do anything to get him to sign another one. In essence, 1955's "The Big Knife," written by James Poe and directed by Robert Aldrich, is a filmed play, a concoction of breathy exchanges and fiery monologues that more or less work until things become too overwrought for their own good. Considering the way it rarely changes scenery, it is oftentimes a case of too much happening in too little of a scenario. Its "day in the life" plot is mostly convincing, but frequently tilts toward contrivance; the diabolical nature of Hollywood is stretched to limits that either pass as satirical or hysterical. But I like how far Steiger, as the studio chief, goes with his hamminess (he's more over-the-top than Joan Crawford and Tallulah Bankhead combined), and how much Shelley Winters (as the starlet who might give Charlie's secret away) and Jean Hagen (as his mistress) are committed to melodramatically playing our lead's "other women." And since "The Big Knife" is your standard acting movie, I cannot ask for much more than it provides - it gives great actors a well-conceived chance to flex their emotive muscles and deliver characterizations of unrelenting power. For that, I can only give it credit. Palance is effectively torn up as the film's unsteady center, and Lupino is compelling as a wife who loves her husband but is at a point in her life where caring about herself might be a better option. A memorable movie it isn't - "The Big Knife" is little more than an intelligently executed exercise in expression - but it is more than eager to prove that a movie can be just as worthwhile when all the action is humanistic rather than extraneously thrilling. The snappy dialogue and skillful performances are something to behold; "The Big Knife" is a B-noir gem worth a look some sixty-plus years later. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 02/03/23 Full Review Audience Member A mild criticism of the Hollywood star system, this is a stage play that transfers well enough to the screen, but is probably too long-winded and wordy for its own good. Jack Palance and Rod Steiger are perhaps not the best choices to be restricted to one set whilst having to convince us they are major players in Tinsel Town. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/06/23 Full Review Read all reviews
      The Big Knife

      My Rating


      Cast & Crew

      100% 71% The Barefoot Contessa 98% 91% Sweet Smell of Success 80% 86% The Bad and the Beautiful 75% 77% The Country Girl 86% 84% Patterns Discover more movies and TV shows. View More

      Movie Info

      Synopsis Movie star Charlie Castle (Jack Palance) draws the ire of Hollywood producer Stanley Hoff (Rod Steiger) when he refuses to sign a new seven-year contract. Castle is sick of the low quality of the studio's films and wants to start a new life. While his estranged wife (Ida Lupino) supports him in the decision, Castle's talent agent (Everett Sloane) urges him to reconsider. When Castle continues to be uncooperative, Hoff resorts to blackmail in order to get his way.
      Robert Aldrich
      Robert Aldrich
      Production Co
      The Associates & Aldrich Company Inc.
      Original Language
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Apr 1, 2017
      1h 51m