Blu-Ray Review: The Big Knife

Narcissism and film-making are often happy bedfellows. Indeed, the theme of Hollywood and the film industry have proved to be fertile ground for screenwriters, directors and producers. There has been a lot of hatred and bile aimed squarely at the studio system. Great directors such as David Lynch (Mulholland Drive), David Cronenberg (Map to the Stars) and The Coen Brothers (Hail, Caesar!) have all taken swipes. In The Big Knife, Robert Aldrich focusses on a big star trying to give it all up for a quiet life.

Charlie Castle (Jack Palance) seems to have it all. As a huge movie star living in an even bigger house, his life seems idyllic. However, his beautiful wife Marion (Ida Lupino) is on the verge of leaving him. She’s adamant that he shouldn’t renew his contract, and Charlie’s trying to hold out, but studio boss Stanley Hoff (Rod Steiger) and his right-hand man Smiley Coy (Wendell Corey) are having none of it. And they’ve got something on Charlie which could end his career.

The Big Knife is a claustrophobic drama which relies on the strong cast and twisting plot. Charlie is desperate to be free of his contract and leave acting, but Mr Hoff has other ideas. Much of the action takes place in Stanley’s home, and there’s a delightful chemistry between Palance and Lupino which gets you squarely rooting for them. Charlie loves Marion but the darker side of his nature, and his increased drinking, leads him astray. In the end, he becomes increasingly desperate to escape, making The Big Knife compulsive viewing.

Special Edition Contents:

• Brand-new 2K restoration from original film elements produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p)
• Original English mono audio uncompressed LPCM
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
• Commentary by film critics Glenn Kenny and Nick Pinkerton, recorded exclusively for this release
• Bass on Titles – Saul Bass, responsible for The Big Knife’s credit sequence, discusses some of his classic work in this self-directed documentary from 1972
• Theatrical trailer
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nathalie Morris

The Big Knife is released on Blu-ray by Arrow Academy on 28 August.

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Next Incoming: American Made

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