The Theater: New Plays in Manhattan, Mar. 7, 1949

The Big Knife (by Clifford Odets; produced by Dwight Deere Wiman) is Odets' first play in seven years, and probably his poorest ever. A kind of savagely spluttering memoir of Hollywood, where Odets has spent most of those seven years, it is a lament for crushed ideals and identities, a screeching indictment of vicious methods and heartless men. Its anger is real; everything else about it is contrived.

The play's central figure is Charlie Castle (John Garfield), onetime idealist and now such a whopping movie star that he is being asked to sign a 14-year contract. Fed up, Charlie wants to leave...

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