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The Man Who Wasn’t There: Wendell Corey, Actor

Sunday, September 15, 2013
7:20 p.m. The Big Knife
Robert Aldrich (U.S., 1955)

To be an indentured celeb: top-billed “Cass” Castle, played with etched agony by Jack Palance, struggles to break free of his dependence on Stanley Hoff (Rod Steiger), a manipulative movie mogul. The life of comfort and fame derived from his string of meaningless studio hits has left him spoiled but disillusioned. Ensconced in his Bel Air estate, Cass gets entangled in a scandalous cover-up orchestrated by Smiley Coy, Hoff’s oily assistant. Smirking Smiley is, of course, the unctuous invention of Wendell Corey, who oozes with smarmy charm. This scathing drama, penned by Clifford Odets, cut the movie biz to the quick.

—Steve Seid

• Written by James Poe, from the play by Clifford Odets. Photographed by Ernest Laszlo. With Jack Palance, Ida Lupino, Wendell Corey, Rod Steiger. (110 mins, B&W, 35mm, From Park Circus)