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The Big Knife

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The Big Knife is an American play by Clifford Odets. Directed by Lee Strasberg, who had worked with Odets at the Group Theatre, and starring fellow Group Theatre alumnus John Garfield. The play debuted at Broadway's National Theatre on 24 February 1949 before closing on May 28th after 109 performances. The Big Knife marked the return of Odets to Broadway after a six-year hiatus in which he toiled in Hollywood as a screenwriter and motion picture director. The play concerns the disillusionment of a movie star with the Hollywood's studio system and disgust with himself, as he has lost his idealism in the pursuit of success. Garfield played major movie star Charlie Castle, whose idealistic wife Marion has left him. She has warned him not to sign a new contract with studio boss Marcus Hoff, or she will not return to him. Hoff has covered up a fatal hit-and-run accident committed by Castle, and he threatens Castle with the revelation of his secret if he does not sign the contract. Castle signs the contract, but subsequently commits suicide with the knowledge that he can never reclaim his lost idealism that he had sacrificed for success.
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