Moviedrome Mondays: The Day of the Locust (1975) and The Big Knife (1955)

The last episode in series 5 of Moviedrome also happens to be another double bill. In this case, the theme revolves around the darker side of Hollywood.

The Day of the Locust (1975)

Since I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing British director John Schlesinger’s 1975 period drama The Day of the Locust, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was August 30, 1992 (read here). Though I do not share Cox’s enthusiasm for 1969’s Midnight Cowboy (also from Schlesinger and screenwriter Waldo Salt), I do agree with everything else he states here regarding The Day of the Locust. Compared to writer Nathanael West’s great 1939 novel of the same name about 1930’s Hollywood, this film adaptation of The Day of the Locust is a hit-and-miss affair. Unfortunately, that same sentiment can also be applied when standing on it’s own. The standout aspects of this film lie in Richard Macdonald’s Art-Direction, Conrad L. Hall’s cinematography, Ann Roth’s costumes, it’s ensemble cast and as Cox notes – two highly impressive disasters and the constant threat of a city-leveling earthquake. What’s lacking here is the satire/social comment and symbolism that shaped the book’s narrative as a whole. All in all, a misfire, albeit an intriguing one.

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

The Big Knife (1955)

Once again, I could not find a youtube video link of Moviedrome presenter Alex Cox introducing cult director Robert Aldrich’s 1955 film noir drama The Big Knife, readers will have to rely on Cox’s intro transcript (read here). The episode’s original airdate was August 31, 1992 (read here). I agree with Cox’s opinion concerning Jack Palance’s lead performance in the film, but I would like to single out another aspect for praise here. Based on legendary playwright Clifford Odets 1949 stage play of the same name, The Big Knife is confined mostly to a single set. Nevertheless, Aldrich symbolically uses the film’s long shot technique to his advantage by involving the audience on both a cinematic and theatrical level. On the one hand, actor Charlie Castle’s (Palance) personal life plays out like a melodrama in regards to how his relationships with wife Marion (Ida Lupino), the flirtatious Connie (Jean Hagen) and struggling actress Dixie Evans (Shelley Winters) are depicted. When it comes to Castle’s professional life though, The Big Knife becomes an expose on the seedy business practices of major Hollywood studios – this comes in the form of a ruthless and unethical studio boss named Stanley Shriner Hoff (Rod Steiger). Last, but not least, we get a typically expressive and stylish title sequence designed by the late great Saul Bass. If any of you readers are interested, here is a link to my favorite Robert Aldrich films (read here).

Here is a youtube video link to the film’s original theatrical trailer

Here is a youtube video link to Saul Bass opening title sequence for the film

While this will not be my last blog entry for 2020, it will be my last one concerning the Moviedrome Mondays entries. I will resume my Moviedrome Mondays blog series in the new year (Sunday, January 10, 2021) beginning with season 6 of Moviedrome šŸ™‚

8 thoughts on “Moviedrome Mondays: The Day of the Locust (1975) and The Big Knife (1955)

  1. Before you watch Day of the Locust, see If you can try to get a copy of Nathanael West’s 1939 novel of the same name and then watch the 1975 film adaptation to see how they compare. Anyway, thanks for dropping by šŸ™‚

  2. As flawed as The Day of the Locust is, it is worth checking out. As for The Big Knife, you can’t go wrong with Robert Aldrich šŸ™‚ Anyway, thanks for dropping by šŸ™‚

  3. The Day of the Locust is far from a bad film (I gave it * * 1/2 out of * * * *), but compared to Nathanael West’s 1939 novel and even standing on it’s own (as you read from above), it does leave a lot to be desired. Nevertheless, I do love it’s production values and the cast is remarkable. Anyway, thanks for dropping by šŸ™‚

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