Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

The Big Knife, Main Title

This week’s mystery movie was the 1955 film The Big Knife, with Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Wendell Corey, Jean Hagen, Rod Steiger, Ilka Chase, Everett Sloane, Wesley Addy, Paul Langton, Nick Dennis, Bill Walker and Mike Winkelman. And Miss Shelley Winters as Dixie Evans.

Adapted for the screen by James Poe. From the stage play by Clifford Odets.

Film Bulletin, October 3, 1955, review of The Big Knife, photos of Rod Steiger and Jack Palance

harrisonsreports37harr_0174Photographed by Ernest Laszlo.

Production supervisor Jack R. Berne, art direction by William Glasgow.

Music composed and conducted by Frank DeVol.

Produced and directed by Robert Aldrich.

Edited by Michael Luciano, assistant director Nate Slott, assistant to the producer Robert Sherman, set decorator Edward G. Boyle, makeup by Louis H. Hippe, upholstered furniture by Martin/Brattrud, sound by Jack Solomon, titles designed by Saul Bass. Casting supervisor Jack Murton, title and photographic effects by Complete Film Service.

The Big Knife is available from Amazon on DVD, Blu-ray and streaming.

Trivia note: The themes of adultery and suicide caused problems with the Production Code Administration.

Trivia note: These may be the sparest titles Saul Bass ever designed.

I picked The Big Knife based on a keyword search “gossip columnists” in the AFI film catalog (nuts to you, IMDB) and here we are.

Executive summary: The Big Knife centers on Jack Palance. who is over his depth, and tries to fix the problem by surrounding him with a top-notch supporting cast. Ida Lupino is excellent, Jean Hagen is excellent (nice to see her in her natural voice rather than what she harrisonsreports37harr_0174pulled for Singing in the Rain), etc. The only exception is Rod Steiger, who chews so much scenery they must have had a medic on set to remove the splinters.

The Big Knife opened on Broadway on Feb. 24, 1949, with John Garfield in the lead, and ran for 109 performances. It was revived in 2013 for 56 performances with Bobby Cannavale in the lead.

Let’s see if the New York Times hated it….

Paging Brooks Atkinson (Feb. 25, 1949)!

Since Clifford Odets feels deeply about nearly everything, The Big Knife fairly snaps with emotion. Mr. Odets says that Hollywood is an evil place. With John Garfield at the head of an enthralling group of players, The Big Knife opened up the National Theatre last evening and Mr. Odets revealed some of Hollywood’s most monstrous abominations.

This column dislikes being found wanting in a good moral crusade. But the characters in The Big Knife are not worth so much of Mr. Odets’ indignation on so cosmic a plane. As in a soundly motivated melodrama, they get what they deserve in the last act. There is no point in crying doom for the entire nation.

To Mr. Odets’ The Big Knife seems to be a study of the immorality of success measure solely in terms of money; and he is showing how the conspiracy of money destroys those who work for it.

If an actor of John Garfield’s caliber can’t pull off a role, there is zero chance Jack Palance is going to miraculously succeed.

Let’s see which New York Times critic hated it. My money is on Bosley Crowther….

Bingo! (Nov. 9, 1955):

The Hollywood actor who is the hero in Robert Aldrich’s The Big Knife, a film about Hollywood people which came to the Victoria yesterday, has a fanatical obsession. He wants to get out of Hollywood. He wants to break his big seven-year contract and stop being a big movie star. He wants to go back to wherever he came from and be a nice, wholesome fellow again. It seems that Hollywood has corrupted his ideals and caused him almost to lose his wife.

But it seems that the studio he works for, personified by its head, Stanley Hoff, doesn’t want to release him. It wants him to continue as a star, paying him a nice big salary and putting him in nice big films.

….Without intending any reflection upon the people who wrote and made this film, we suggest that they are asking the audience to have sympathy for a dunce. Their big, shaggy Hollywood actor, played in a big, shaggy way by Jack Palance, is a miserably muddled fellow who really doesn’t know what he wants.

Aug. 2, 2021, Mystery Photo

For Monday, we have a mystery gentleman.

Update: This is Bill Walker.

Aug. 3, 2021, Mystery Photo

For Tuesday, we have a mystery gent. Also Back of the Head Woman, who is taking a call.

Update: This is Mel Welles (frequently spelled Wells) with Shelly Winters as Back of the Head Woman. You may recall him as the proprietor of a certain flower shop in another film.

Aug. 3, 2021, Mystery Photo
We also have this mystery woman. She does not approve of such goings-on.

Update: This is Ilka Chase.

Brain Trust roll call: Howard Mandelbaum (Monday’s mystery gent), B.J. Merholz (Monday’s mystery gent), Mary Mallory (Monday’s mystery gent), Jenny M. (Monday’s mystery gent), Michael Ryerson (Monday’s mystery gent), Sylvia E. (Monday’s mystery gent), Alexa (Monday’s mystery gent) and Patrick (Monday’s mystery gent).

Aug. 4, 2021, Mystery Photo

For “Hm Wednesday,” we have a painting that is featured throughout the mystery movie. Also Back of the Head Guy, whom we’ll see later in the week.

Update: This is Rod Steiger, checking the scenery for bite marks.

Aug. 4, 2021, Mystery Photo

Here’s another mystery guest with another Back of the Head Guy.

Update: This is Wendell Corey as Back of the Head Guy and Nick Dennis.

Aug. 4, 2021, Mystery Photo

And finally, we have this mystery gent.

Update: This is Paul Langton.

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (mystery movie and Tuesday’s mystery guests), Jenny M. (mystery movie, Tuesday’s Back of the Head Woman and mysterious gossip columnist), Howard Mandelbaum (mystery movie, Wednesday’s mystery guests), David Inman (Tuesday’s Back of the Head Woman), Alexa (mystery movie, Tuesday’s Back of the Head Woman and mysterious gossip columnist), Gary (Tuesday’s mysterious gossip columnist) and Thom and Megan (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery gent and Tuesday’s mysterious gossip columnist).

Aug. 5, 2021, Mystery Photo

For “Aha Thursday,” we have this familiar mystery guest, plus Back of the Head Guy.

Update: This is Jack Palance as Back of the Head guy, with Everett Sloane.

Aug. 5, 2021, Mystery Photo

We also have this mystery woman.

Update: This is Jean Hagen.

Aug. 5, 2021, Mystery Photo

And we have this mystery gent.

Update: This is Wesley Addy.

Brain Trust roll call: Mary Mallory (Wednesday’s mystery guests), Tucson Barbara (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery guest, Tuesday’s mystery guests and Wednesday’s Back of the Head Guy No. 1), Howard Mandelbaum (Wednesday’s mystery guests), Michael Ryerson (mystery movie, Tuesday’s Back of the Head Woman and mysterious gossip columnist, Wednesday’s Back of the Head Guy No. 1, mystery gents Nos. 1 and 2), B.J. Merholz (mystery movie, Wednesday’s Back of the Head guy), Sheila (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery gent, Tuesday’s mysterious gossip columnist, Wednesday’s Back of the Head Guy No. 1 and mysterious studio executive), Beach Gal (mystery movie, all mystery guests), Gary (mystery movie), Patrick (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Mike Hawks (mystery movie, Monday’s mystery gent, Wednesday’s mysterious studio executive, Tuesday’s mysterious gossip columnist, Wednesday’s Back of the Head Guy No. 2 and mystery gent No. 1) and Sylvia E. (mystery movie, Tuesday’s Back of the Head Woman, and Wednesday’s Back of the Head Guys).

Aug. 6, 2021, Mystery Photo

For Friday, we have these two unhappy former Back of the Head Guys. They do NOT approve of such goings-on.

Update: This is Wendell Corey and Rod Steiger.

Aug. 6, 2021, Mystery Photo

And here’s former Back of the Head Woman and former Back of the Head Guy.

Update: This is Miss Shelley Winters and Jack Palance.

Aug. 6, 2021, Mystery Photo

And finally, our mystery leading lady and mysterious leading man.

Update: This is the always excellent Ida Lupino and Jack Palance.

Brain Trust roll call: Floyd Thursby (mystery movie), Mary Mallory (Thursday’s mystery guests), Tucson Barbara (Thursday’s mystery guests), Beach Gal (Thursday’s mystery guests), Michael Ryerson (Thursday’s mystery guests), Howard Mandelbaum (Thursday’s mystery guests), David Inman (mystery movie, Thursday’s mystery gent No. 1 and mystery woman), Megan and Thom (Tuesday’s, Wednesday’s and Thursday’s mystery guests), Anne Papineau (mystery movie and all mystery guests), Mike Hawks (Thursday’s mystery guests), L.C. (mystery movie and mystery cast) and Sylvia E. (Tuesday’s mystery gossip columnist, Wednesday’s mystery sparring partner, Thursday’s mystery guests and peering into the future to predict Friday’s mystery guests).

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1955, Film, Hollywood, Mystery Photo, Stage and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Movieland Mystery Photo (Updated + + + +)

  1. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Bill Walker.

    Like

  2. B.J. Merholz says:

    Bill Walker

    Like

  3. Anne Papineau says:

    Mantan Moreland?

    Like

  4. Mary Mallory says:

    Bill Walker

    Like

  5. Gary says:

    Is everyone guessing Eddie Rochester Anderson….or just me?

    Like

  6. Mary Mallory says:

    WOMAN IN HIDING, 1949.

    Like

  7. Jenny M says:

    Bill Walker

    Like

  8. I think this is Bill Walker.

    Like

  9. Sylvia E. says:

    Monday – William Franklin Walker (Bill Walker) is my guess

    Like

  10. Alexa says:

    Bill Walker!

    Like

  11. Patrick says:

    Bill Walker on Monday (I think).

    Like

  12. Mary Mallory says:

    THE BIG KNIFE. Mel Welles and BOTH Shelley Winters and Ilka Chase.

    Like

  13. Jenny M says:

    Nick Dennis (with Shelley Winters) and Ilka Chase in The Big Knife.

    Like

  14. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Mel Welles, Shelley Winters; Ilka Chase.

    Like

  15. David Inman says:

    I don’t know why, but the back of that head screams Shelley Winters to me.

    Like

  16. Alexa says:

    Shelley Winters Ilka Chase
    The Big Knife

    Like

  17. Gary says:

    A second consecutive Tuesday Win! Ilka Chase in It Should |Happen to You…boh-gal being Judy Holiday.

    Like

  18. Thom and Megan says:

    Our movie is The Big Knife, with Ilka Chase.

    Like

  19. Thom and Megan says:

    And Bill Walker from Monday.

    Like

  20. Mary Mallory says:

    Rod STeiger as BOTH one, Wendell Corey as BOTH 2, Nick Dennis, and Paul Langton.

    Like

  21. tucsonbarbara says:

    The Big Knife

    Mon – Bill Walker
    Tues – Mel Welles, Shelley Winters, Ilka Chase
    Wed – Rod Steiger

    Like

  22. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Rod Steiger; Wendell Corey, Nick Dennis; Paul Langton.

    Like

  23. Tuesday’s Back of the head Woman is likely Shelley Winters, lady with the handbag is Ilka Chase (?), Wednesday’s Back of the Head Guy, contemplating our mystery painting, is Rod Steiger, then we have Nick Dennis and Paul Langton. Making this The Big Knife (1955).

    Like

  24. B,J, Merholz says:

    Rod Steiger about to give Jack Palance The Big Knife.

    Like

  25. Sheila says:

    Bill Walker, Ilka Chase, Rod Steiger, Paul Langton in ‘The Big Knife’?

    Like

  26. beachgal says:

    Movie is The Big Knife – 1955
    Tues woman in suit and hat is Ilka Chase.
    Wed man we see back of with white hair in front of painting is Rod Steiger
    Wed side profile of a bothg is Wendell Corey talking to I think
    Nick Dennis
    Last mystery gent for Wed is Paul Langton
    Monday – frame 1 is Bill Walker
    Tues frame 1 – back of head woman is Shelley Winters with Mel Willes

    Like

    • beachgal says:

      Oops that should have been Mel Welles

      Like

    • beachgal says:

      Changed my mind. I think the Wed actor talking to bothg Wendell Corey is Nick Cravat.

      Like

      • beachgal says:

        Nope. I’m going back to the trainer Nick is played by Nick Dennis. I think IMDB has listed his character name wrongly as Mickey when it’s Nicky. I think TCM has the character name correct. Nick vs Mick – sounds similar in the on screen dialogue.TCM also lists Mel Wells as the actor dancing with Shelley Winters. IMDB has his last name spelled Welles.

        Like

  27. Gary says:

    Thanks for the clue…so it’s a Wednesday win with The Big Knife.

    Like

  28. Patrick says:

    The aforementioned Bill Walker, Mel Welles, Shelley Winters, Ilka Chase, Rod Steiger, Wendell Corey, Nick Dennis and Paul Langton in The Big Knife from 1955.

    Like

  29. mike hawks says:

    Not in order but here we go. Bill Walker, Paul Langton, Ilka Chase, Wendell Corey and Nick Dennis in THE BIG KNIFE.

    Like

  30. Sylvia E. says:

    Laughing because my guesses are based on your saying that one of Tuesday’s images is of a gossip columnist (which implies a show biz tale) and some guesses on 3 BOTH folks – in other words, so far I only know Mr. Walker from Monday. Anyway, here goes:

    I think the movie is “The Big Knife” 1955. Based on that guess:
    I think Tuesday’s BOTHW is Shelley Winters. Don’t have a guess for the gossip columnist (I’ll search if you confirm my guess on the movie)
    I think Wednesday’s BOTHG #1 is Rod Steiger and BOTHG #2 is Wendell Corey

    Will await your confirmation, or ‘Alas, but nice try…’

    Like

  31. Floyd Thursby says:

    Judging by the set, the movie is “The Big Knife.”

    Like

  32. Mary Mallory says:

    Jack Palance as BOTH guy, Everett Sloane, Jean Hagen, and Wesley Addy. He never changed much.

    Like

  33. tucsonbarbara says:

    Jack Palance, Everett Sloane, Jean Hagen, Wesley Addy

    Like

  34. beachgal says:

    Thurs bothg is Jack Palance with Everett Sloane.
    Thurs is Jean Hagen
    Thurs Wesley Addy

    Like

  35. For Thursday we have Everett Sloane talking to back-of-the-head Jack Palance, and then Jean Hagen and Wesley Addy.

    Like

  36. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Jack Palance, Everett Sloane; Jean Hagen; Wesley Addy.

    Like

  37. David Inman says:

    So this IS “The Big Knife”! I had my suspicions when I guessed Shelley Winters and saw that jazzy living room but didn’t follow through. It took Everett Sloane and Jean Hagen to convince me.

    Like

  38. Megan and Thom says:

    In the first scene on Tuesday are Mel Welles and Back-of-the-Head-Woman, Shelley Winters. In the first scene on Wednesday is Rod Steiger. In the second scene are Back-of-the-Head-Guy, Wendell Corey and Nick Dennis. In the third scene is Paul Langton. Today in the first scene are Jack Palance and Everett Sloane. In the second scene is Jean Hagen and in the third scene is Wesley Addy.

    Like

  39. Anne Papineau says:

    “The Big Knife” featuring Bill Walker, Mel Welles, Ilka Chase, Rod Steiger, Nick Dennis, Paul Langton, Everett Sloane, Jean Hagen and Wesley Addy.

    Like

  40. mike hawks says:

    Jack Palance, Everett Sloane, Jean Hagen and Wesley Addy.

    Like

  41. LC says:

    The Big Knife (1955) w/Bill Walker, Ilka Chase, Everett Sloane, Rod Steiger, Jean Hagen, Wesley Addy, Shelley Winters, Jack Palance…

    Like

  42. Sylvia E. says:

    Ilka Chase is the Tuesday gossip columnist. And I think Nick Dennis is the guy talking to Wendell Corey.

    Thursday – image 1 Everett Sloane talking to BOTHG Jack Palance. Jean Hagen in image 2. Wesley Addy in image 3.

    That leaves Ida Lupino and a ‘face forward’ shot of Jack Palance for Friday, along with all the other BOTH folks we saw earlier. Enjoyed ‘detecting’ (thank you for the compliment, Alexa) and am looking forward to the Saturday breakdown.

    Like

  43. Mary Mallory says:

    Wendell Corey and Rod Steiger, Jack Palance and Shelley Winters, and Ida Lupino and Shelley Winters.

    Like

  44. Friday brings Wendell Corey and Rod Steiger, Shelly Winters and Jack Palance and, finally, Ida Lupino and Jack Palance.

    Like

  45. Howard Mandelbaum says:

    Wendell Corey, Rod Steiger; Shelley Winters, Jack Palance; Ida Lupino, Jack Palance.

    Like

  46. beachgal says:

    For Fri, Rod Steiger with Wendall Corey.
    For Fri – Jack Palance with Shelley Winters
    For Fri – Jack Palance with Ida Lupino

    Like

  47. mike hawks says:

    Wendell Corey, Rod Steiger, Shelley Winters, Jack Palance and Ida Lupino.

    Like

  48. tucsonbarbara says:

    Wendell Corey, Rod Steiger, Shelley Winters, Jack Palance, Ida Lupino

    Like

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