Sunday, November 1, 2020

CAFTAN WOMAN'S CHOICE: ONE FOR NOIRVEMBER ON TCM



Lives are intertwined and fates determined as lightning flashes over three youngsters in Iverstown. Janis Wilson is the headstrong Martha Ivers. Her destiny is wealth and power and her needs are many. Barbara Stanwyck plays the adult Martha. Darryl Hickman is the young Sam Masterson, a loyal friend yet an independent soul, mature beyond his years. Van Heflin plays the adult Sam. Mickey Kuhn is the young Walter O'Neil, a weak and easily cowed kid who will be a weak and easily cowed adult played by Kirk Douglas in his movie debut after signing with Hal Wallis. Events will occur on that rainy night in Iverstown that will reverberate through the years. Consequences were set in stone that night.

Janis Wilson, Darryl Hickman, Mickey Kuhn

Iverstown is a dark place and we rarely see it in the daylight. Sam Masterson has been a traveler and unexpectedly finds the road is leading back to his old hometown. He hasn't seen it in years and hasn't thought of it or those friends he left behind for even longer. A new friend is on his mind when he makes the acquaintance of a hard-luck gal named Toni Marachek played by Lizabeth Scott in her second feature; another Wallis contractee. Toni has attached herself to Sam. Sam isn't complaining but he is surprised.

Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Kirk Douglas

Sam is also surprised by his treatment by what appears to be the underworld of the old town. Perhaps his old friend Walter, now the District Attorney can be of some help or is he in back of the trouble? Funnily enough, to Sam's mind anyway, Walter is married to Martha. Walter and Martha have a relationship built on secrets and lies. Walter and Martha both believe Sam knows the depth of their lies and try to use intimidation and offers of other things to avoid the blackmail they see coming. It is indeed a tangled and emotional web spun around these characters. A web that started spinning long ago.

Robert Rossen and Robert Riskin wrote the screenplay for this film-noir based on the short story Love Lies Bleeding by Jack Patrick. Lewis Milestone directed this stylish and classy production for Hal Wallis. The Miklos Rozsa score gives chilling support to the story and performances.

Cinematographer Victor Milner creates an Iverstown where anything can happen, anything unseemly and crooked. Milner shot leading lady Barbara Stanwyck many times: Union Pacific, The Lady Eve, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, The Other Love, The Furies, and Jeopardy.

Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott, Barbara Stanwyck

Edith Head's costumes for the ladies are fabulous. Martha Ivers indulges her good taste in fashion and her money. Toni is cute as can be on a budget. It is a joy to watch the ladies clash over Sam. Hey, you have to take your joy where you find it in Iverstown. 


TCM is devoting primetime Wednesday, November 4th Lizabeth Scott. The lineup includes Too Late for Tears, Dead Reckoning, The Pitfall, The Racket, and our movie, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. You have but two options: record or prop open those eyelids!





28 comments:

  1. Good point re: the women's wardrobe. Stanwyck's clothes are stunning, but she also has the money to afford custom-made designs. Like you said, Scott's wardrobe is very cute even though we're conscious of her tight budget.

    This movie never gets old for me. Terrific script & performances.

    Also: I didn't realize Robert Riskin co-wrote the script. I'm going to keep that in mind the next time I watch this.

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    1. I have the same relationship with this movie in that it never gets old, and I am always finding something new to appreciate. Thanks for visiting.

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  2. I always thought the child actors in this were quite good. I could easily believe young Janis Wilson (now that I know her name) could grow up to be Barbara Stanwyck. Plus their relationships to each other are well established.

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    1. Those youngsters and their story grab you right off the bat. Impressive filmmaking.

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  3. I just love this film - it's actually a pretty weird one, quite dark and perverse in its undercurrents, especially in the relationship between Martha and her husband. Movies could SUGGEST so much in the old classic noir!

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    1. So true. It isn't just adhering to or sneaking something past the code. It feels like a trust in the audience or at least some of the audience. It is respectful.

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  4. STRANGE LOVE is an interesting noir and you're right about the fabulous Rosa score. But of all the noirs you mention at the end of your post, PITFALL is the one that I find the most fascinating. Thanks for providing the link to its review in your archives.

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    1. Thank you very much. I really enjoyed writing the Pitfall piece and it is nice to dust it off.

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  5. ROBERT RISKIN was married to FAY WRAY. Fay played the wife to RAYMOND BURR in CRIME OF PASSION. The movie starred...BARBARA STANWYCK.

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    1. Crime of Passion is an interesting look at women in the 1950s when there was a stark choice between a career or being a housewife.

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  6. SEAN KANAN is 54 today. He is best known for his work on daytime soaps. He played DEACON SHARPE on two soaps-THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL and THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS. He is best known for playing A.J. QUARTERMAINE on GENERAL HOSPITAL. Speaking of Raymond Burr, Sean got to do two PERRY MASON TV-movies. In THE CASE OF THE MALIGNED MOBSTER he played the son of the defendant(MICHAEL NADER). Sean has the distinction of playing the murder victim in the last Perry Mason movie with Raymond. It was THE CASE OF THE KILLER KISS. STUART DAMON was also in the movie. Didn't Sean play the son of ALAN(played by Stuart) on GH?

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    1. Sean Kanan did indeed play AJ (Alan Jr.) on General Hospital. Most recently, the digital series Studio City, in which he stars and co-produces and writes nominated for several Daytime Emmy awards.

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  7. I think it would have been good if BARBARA STANWYCK had done a western with VAN HEFLIN and/or KIRK DOUGLAS. It would have been interesting if they had Barbara be married to Van in the western. Kirk could have played an old flame or a new fellow trying to woo Barbara away from her husband. Of course, it could turn out that Kirk is a bad guy in the movie.

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    1. All three were very good in westerns and that would have bee an interesting story.

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  8. What westerns do you like KIRK DOUGLAS best in? Off the top of my head, I've seen Kirk in THE WAY WEST(I thought it was kind of boring), THE LAST SUNSET, GUNFIGHT AT THE OK CORRAL(with the lovely RHONDA FLEMING) and LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL(with CAROLYN JONES, ANTHONY QUINN and EARL HOLLIMAN). I remember that you're a fan of Earl(as I am). My favorite out of these four movies is LAST TRAIN FROM GUN HILL. I really enjoyed the movie and the cast. Carolyn Jones had an interesting career.

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    1. Man Without a Star is my favourite of Kirk's westerns followed by Last Train from Gun Hill, Gunfight at the OK Corral, The War Wagon, There Was a Crooked Man..., and Lonely Are the Brave would round out the list.

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  9. One western that slipped my mind for a little bit is MAN WITHOUT A STAR with JEANNE CRAIN. Then I remembered that you mentioned you like that movie(as do I). Kirk got to be more light-hearted in the movie than usual-and he sang!

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    1. Yes. There are serious themes in Man Without a Star, but the easy-going character gives it a charm for us.

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  10. I didn't see the two movies that BARBARA STANWYCK did with ROBERT TAYLOR(her second ex-husband). What is your opinion of them?

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    1. His Brother's Wife, 1936 was just "okay." This is My Affair, 1937 held my interest more. I would have liked to have seen the couple in a comedy back in the 1930s.

      The Night Walker, 1964 was like a lot of William Castle movies - I enjoy them but don't always recommend them.

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  11. BARBARA STANWYCK's first ex-husband FRANK FAY was once married to BETTY KEAN, the sister of JANE KEAN. Betty's first three marriages all ended in divorce. The ex-husbands(in order) were ROY SEDLEY, FRANK FAY and JIM BACKUS. Betty was married to LEW PARKER from 1956 until his passing in 1972. Lew is best known for playing the dad of THAT GIRL Ann Marie(MARLO THOMAS). By the way, Marlo has been married to PHIL DONAHUE for 40 years!

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    1. Gee, I remember when Marlo and Phil met when she guested on his show. You could see he was smitten!

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  12. I remember BETTY KEAN from her ep of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW titled A VISIT TO BARNEY FIFE(1967). Andy visits Barney in RALEIGH where Barney is working. Betty plays MA PARKER. Barney is renting a room from her. She has a son and a daughter. The story has to do with grocery store robberies at night when the stores are closed. Betty's married name was Parker then. According to imdb Betty Kean guest starred on an ep of THAT GIRL which her husband LEW PAKER was on.

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    1. I haven't seen That Girl in ages. I wonder if Betty and Lew got to drive to work together that week.

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  13. Today JACKIE JOSEPH is 87! She did an ep of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW (in scenes with ERNEST T. BASS(HOWARD MORRIS)). According to imdb she did four eps of GOMER PYLE, USMC. Of course, Gomer was a spin-off of the Griffith show. She played a different character each time. It's a wonder they didn't have her do an ep of MAYBERRY RFD especially being it starred Jackie's then-husband KEN BERRY(as SAM JONES).

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    1. Small world department: Jackie is in one of my favourite comedies, Who's Minding the Mint? which was directed by Howard Morris.

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  14. Like BARBARA STANWYCK, JACKIE JOSEPH was in an ELVIS PRESLEY movie. Of course, Barbara had a lead role in ROUSTABOUT. Jackie had an uncredited role as a salesgirl in KING CREOLE which also had CAROLYN JONES, WALTER MATTHAU and DOLORES HART.

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    1. King Creole is one of Elvis's better movies having been directed by Michael Curtiz.

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