Carl Buckley (Broderick Crawford) needs the intervention of his beautiful wife Vicki (Gloria Grahame) to keep his job, so Vicki meets with Carl's boss Owens (Grandon Rhodes), and Carl's job is secure. Insanely jealous, Carl finds Vicki with Owens on board a train and kills Owens.
Jeff Warren (Glenn Ford), an off-duty train engineer protects Vicki and they begin an affair. Still obsessively jealous, Carl becomes an alcoholic and blackmails Vicki into staying with him. Vicki persuades Jeff to kill Carl, but at the last minute Jeff relents, taking on the letter which Carl has used to blackmail Vicki with.
Vicki leaves town on the train with Carl -- all the while taunting him with her infidelity. Carl is overcome with a jealous rage that ultimately leads to tragedy.
Directed by Fritz Lang), Human Desire an updated remake of Jean Renoir's adaptation of Emile Zola's novel, La Bete Humaine, is a grim sordid story in which desperate people try to relieve their desolate lives with cheap pleasures.
Gloria Grahame is perversely alluring as the sexually driven Vicki and Broderick Crawford evokes some empathy as the obsessed Carl.