Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1946. Hal Wallis Productions. Screenplay by Robert Rossen, based on the story Love Lies Bleeding by John Patrick. Cinematography by Victor Milner. Produced by Hal B. Wallis. Music by Miklos Rozsa. Production Design by Hans Dreier, John Meehan. Costume Design by Edith Head. Film Editing by Archie Marshek. Academy Awards 1946. Cannes Film Festival 1947.
This terrific film noir is one of the darkest films to come out of the forties. It starts off with young Martha Ivers, a twelve year-old heiress who lives with her cruel aunt (Judith Anderson) and dreams of one day being rid of her. When this finally happens it is under very suspicious circumstances whose truth is known only to her and two close friends. Years later, Martha is grown up (as Barbara Stanwyck), runs the family empire and has married one of her two secret-keepers (Kirk Douglas in his film debut). The other confidante (Van Heflin) has just returned to town and needs a favour from his old pals. They, suspecting that he’ll blackmail them with the knowledge of Martha’s dark past, do their best to get rid of him fast. Lizabeth Scott gives her usual Lauren Bacall-ripoff performance as the new girl in Heflin’s life, and her plot only further thickens the already exciting story. The photography is fantastically moody, the story deliciously creepy, and Stanwyck is, as always, the epitome of evil-sexy.