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directed by Robert Aldrich
USA 1955


Academy Award winners* Jack Palance, Rod Steiger and Shelley Winters deliver knockout performances in this vicious "poison-pen letter to the movie business" (American Cinematheque)that's an extreme close-up of greed, lust and murder! Hollywood superstar Charlie Castle (Palance) has it all except a way out. When he tries to leave show business, his tyrannical studio boss Stanley Hoff (Steiger) blackmails him with a lethal, covered-up secret that could land him in jail. A loose-lipped starlet (Winters) also knows too much, and when she starts talking, Hoff plans murder. Now Charlie is more cornered than ever on the brink of losing his wealth, his power and his soul.


A dynamite portrait of a man on the verge of total psychological and moral collapse, Robert Aldrich's 1955 indictment of Hollywood stars Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, and Rod Steiger. Adapted from a series of plays by Clifford Odets, Aldrich's film focuses on the ways in which a man's freedom is systematically denied him by the forces that control his world, whether that world is the arts, business, or politics. Palance is superb as the Hollywood star who now has to be blackmailed to continue starring in the dreadful films produced by Rod Steiger (in a magnificent portrayal of Harry Cohn, Louis B. Mayer, and Jack Warner rolled into one). Electric, exciting, and ultimately very depressing.

Excerpt from Don Druker at the Chicago Reader located HERE



Theatrical Release: 25 October 1955 (Los Angeles, California)

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DVD Review: MGM - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to Gregory Meshman for the Review!

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Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 1:53:52

1.33:1 Open Matte format
Average Bitrate: 5.4 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
Subtitles English, Spanish, French, None
Features Release Information:
Studio: MGM

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• Theatrical trailer (2:27)

DVD Release Date: October 15th, 2002
Keep Case

Chapters 16



MGM's DVD release of The Big Knife dates back to 2002 and unfortunately, the print used for this transfer has seen the better days. The film is presented open matte so there is a lot of head room. A 1.85:1, or 1.66:1, aspect ratio with higher resolution and anamorphic enhancement would have probably improved the image detail. There are some marks and specks on the print and 2 sequences at 1:23 have some noticeable damage for about 2-3 frames (see the last capture).


The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono audio is fine and there are optional yellow subtitles provided in English, French or Spanish. In 2009 Optimum released this film on DVD in UK HERE and in 2010 MGM released it in Australia, but we don't have those discs to compare. The US disc was recently discontinued, so if you can find it for the right price, pick it up. But otherwise, this film deserves a better release.

  - Gregory Meshman


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Region 1 - NTSC


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