Review: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers is a classic film noir from 1946. This film has a lot of unique history to it. It is directing great Lewis Milestone’s only film noir. It is also Kirk Douglas’ first film, recommended for the film by the first couple of noir, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall based on his Broadway acting. We also have “The Threat” Lizabeth Scott in only her second film. Scott may have been called “The Threat” based on her being a possible threat to film noir greats Lauren Bacall and Veronica Lake. It’s hard to say if Scott was ever really a threat to those two, but she sure held her own and has earned a right to be named with those two as some of film’s noir favorites. In addition to all this talent we have the two biggest stars of this film being the all time great Barbara Stanwyck and our leading man being Van Heflin. Heflin was coming off of a three-year leave from the movies to serve in World War II.

Our film starts out with Martha as a young girl trying to run away from her overbearing Aunt. She is aided by juvenile delinquent Sam. When Walter tells his father and the police where Martha might be, she is soon caught. After a black out and a scuffle on the stairs Martha hits her Aunt with a poker and she falls to her death down the stairs. We flash forward seventeen years as Sam, played by Heflin is driving by his old hometown, he gets in a car wreck and brings his car into town to be fixed. Sam finds his childhood friends are now prominent fixtures in the small town. Walter played by Douglas is now the D.A. and is married to Martha, played by Stanwyck, who has inherited her Aunts wealth. Sam soon meets ex-con Toni, played by Scott. There is an instant attraction, but when Toni gets in trouble, Sam calls on his old friend, the D.A. Walter to help her.

This is a great film with quite a few plot lines going on. Will Martha’s past come back to haunt her when her best friend from her past comes home? Will Sam use her to help out his new flame? How will Walter react to all of this? What will he do?

This is a must see film noir for all fans of classic film. If you are a fan of any one of the big four stars of this picture you will love it. If you are not a fan of any of these four stars…you need to start watching some of their films!

Favorite Tidbit: This film appears on the television in a scene from last years horror favorite The Babadook.

Review: Crime of Passion

Crime of Passion is a film noir from 1957 with 3 of noir’s greatest.  We Have Barbara Stanwyck, Sterling Hayden and Raymond Burr in a love triangle that can not end well. Gerd Oswald directs this film, written by Jo Eisinger.

This story starts out with Stanwyck working at a paper as an advice columnist for a San Francisco paper. She gets put on a story against her will where she meets a couple Los Angeles cops who fly up about the case. One of the cops is Hayden and Stanwyck falls in love in short time. She soon moves down to Los Angeles and marries Hayden. She has problems getting along with the other cop’s wives and doesn’t handle the stress of being a cop’s wife herself. We soon learn that Hayden’s boss is Burr and an old flame of Stanwyck’s. Burr is also married, his wife is played by none other than Fay Wray. Wray is very sick and this is hard on Burr. Soon Burr and Stanwyck start seeing each other again. This love triangle does not end well and our story really heats up.

This film is short and starts out quit slow, but it heats up in the last half hour. The film plays as a bit of a psychological thriller and Stanwyck is getting the ball rolling on the psychotic femme fatale that we would see in future films like Fatal Attraction.

Hayden is very good playing his every man’s man, as he always does. Burr is real good playing somebody with a lot of power and is very strong, but when he lets his guard down and shows some weakness it is very believable. Stanwyck is good as always and you could watch this again just to get all the little nuances of her performance. Wray plays a smaller part, but does a good job with it.

This is a good film and well worth watching. Just give it some time to get started as the first half of the film is a little dull and slow. It quickly builds to an interesting noir by the end.