Fritz Lang's Human Desire is the centerpiece of Columbia Film Noir Classics Volume II five DVD set. It is also the most noir of the five movies included: The Brothers Rico, Nightfall, City of Fear, and Pushover. If film noir is about base human emotions and violent crimes, Human Desire is the perfect example of the genre. The railroad setting adds an unusual dimension to it and the crisscrossing tracks obviously symbolic.
Ford plays train engineer Jeff Warren. A big shot is murdered on one of his runs. Warren puts two and two together and figures that a colleague named Carl Buckley and his wife Vicki (Crawford and Grahame) are responsible for the murder. Warren falls for Vicki and this is why he keeps his mouth shut. Vicki can't leave her husband because he holds incriminating evidence against her. Eventually Vicki and Warren conspire against Carl Buckley.
A secondary and parallel story involves the Simmons, the family where Warren is rooming. Their daughter Vera has a thing for a Warren and he knows it. The relationship between Vera's mother and father is obviously presented as the normal ideal relationship. It also serves to insert a few light moments in this thriller.
Everything eventually comes to a head.
There is a lot going on in Human Desire if you are a film student. The coincidence a train's rhythm and Jeff and Vicki's first kiss is quite a neat sound effect trick.
Human Desire is based on an Emile Zola naturalist novel La Bete Humaine.
Special features on this film noir DVD are the original trailer and Terror and Desire, a 10-minute short on the movie with British Actress Emily Mortimer.
Other Fritz Lang DVD
Film Noir: Man Hunt - Fritz Lang 1941