The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
One of the blackest of the post-war film noir classics, "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" is notable for both its outstanding story and technique, and its truly impressive cast. Veterans Barbara Stanwyck and Van Heflin were joined by the youthful Kirk Douglas, making his screen debut in this lush Hal Wallis production. Small town mystery, murder, and intrigue is the subject as a common American phenomenon, the small town run by a powerful matriarchal family, is examined at less than arms length. The mysterious murder of a rich aunt by a young child haunts the lives of the killer and the witnesses across the years, building to a dramatic conclusion as a surprise visitor returns to town after an absence of decades.
Barbara Stanwyck mesmerizes as a woman with a past, bound by a crime to a husband she despises. Kirk Douglas quickens our collective pulses in his film debut as her disappointing, dipsomaniac spouse, while Van Heflin and Lizabeth Scott bring texture to supporting roles. Everything about this 1946 film noir is intriguing, from Lewis Milestone's direction to Edith Head's costumes to the edgy and troubled characters. It takes a long, hard look at guilt and the consequences of poorly planned actions. Well worth checking out, despite a wretched title. --Rochelle O'Gorman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Overall Quality of DVD: ***1/2 /**** Sound: *** /**** Plot: ***1/2 /**** Acting: ***1/2 /**** Cinematography: ***1/2 /**** Direction: ***1/2 /****
You will be surprised at the quality of this GOTHAM transfer. There are some frame skips but other than that this DVD is a steal-of-a-deal and an "A"-rated film-noir!
Kirk Douglas and Barbara Stanwyck are very intense in their roles but, in my opinion, Van Heflin and Lizabeth Scott steal the show. Lizabeth Scott plays the beaten-down, always-taken-advantage-of, world-weary, down-on-her-luck, cute, sexy girl that... well, you just want to take her in your arms and give her a hug, yet, you also know if you do, you will probably have to kiss her and then you'll probably fall in love with her (just as Van Heflin does). In my opinion, this is Lizabeth Scotts' best role that I've seen ("Dead Reckoning" she is also quite good in - "Too Late For Tears" she is not as strong). She seems to need a strong hand in direction and when she gets it she can give A-level performances.
Mickey Kuhn as the young Kirk Douglas, Darryl Hickman (Dwayne Hickman's "Dobie Gillis" younger brother) as the young Van Heflin and Janis Wilson as the young Martha Ivers give riveting performances and are so "in character" in looks and mannerisms with the adult actors it will amaze you!
Also, Judith Anderson (Mrs. Danvers (Danny) in "Rebecca") gives a wonderfully sinister performance.
This is an "A+" story, acted well, directed well, filmed well, great production design and a very smooth transfer.
This film is worthy of restoration but is worthy in its present incarnation as is.
I really enjoyed this movie, which is an unusual mix of film noir, melodrama, romance, and mystery. Barbara Stanwyck plays grown-up Martha and is perfectly cast as a tough-as-nails and utterly ruthless woman. Her husband is well-played by Kirk Douglas, in his film debut. He's very young but very confident and convincing as an alcoholic loser. The real star of the show is Van Heflin who plays grown-up Sam, a street-wise charmer who can handle himself in a fight. Heflin is handsome, charismatic, and very sympathetic and reminded me of a young William Holden. He is paired with sultry Lizabeth Scott, who was made for film noir tough gal parts.
The script is clever and fast-paced and I was on the edge of my seat right up to the very satisfying ending. If you like gritty, character-driven dramas with plenty of twists and turns, you'll like this movie.
"Strange Love" is a great film which doesn't seem to be as well known as the great classic "Double Indemnity" but it deserves to be.
Barbara Stanwyck tends to be known for her tough lady characters but in reality alot of her best performances were in very sympathic and feminine roles like "Stella Dallas" and "My Reputation" She was a great actress who could easily play both comedy and drama. In this film she is a ruthless lady hiding a dark secret from her childhood involving murder and deception who believes that her evil past has come back to haunt her in the form of childhood cohort Van Heflin.
What develops in this story is a tense cat and mouse game with both parties waiting to see who will make the next move. Tense stuff indeed and the film is quite rivetting right up to the end.Judith Anderson has a brief but telling role in the first flash back section of the film and ends up a murder victim. She plays Barbara's aunt as a mean, vicious monster which I feel almost lends Barbaras later character a little sympathy. That is what is so unique about "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" no character is really as they first seem , every character has other elements to their makeup not obvious at first. It really is intriguing. Lizabeth Scott also has an important role as the girl from the wrong sid eof the tracks just trying to go straight and make good. Hers is a great performance and her one scene with Stanwyck positively crackles.
The overraul look of the film is lavish with that certain noir quality. Barbara , although not acclaimed as a great beauty is here as always a very attractive woman even when playing a nasty character.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
Wonderful wonderful. They sure knew how to make them back then. Mystery, story line its got it all.Published 16 months ago by diana smith
Sam Masterson left Iverstown with a traveling circus as a boy in 1928. 18 years later, having been everywhere and done his share of everything, including being a decorated war... Read morePublished on Feb. 18 2004 by mirasreviews
Call me an old romantic but there's something GREAT about B&W movies where megagorgeous girls say to ordinary guys things like "Go ahead and slap me; I had it... Read morePublished on Oct. 28 2001 by Paco Calderón
and doesn't match up with the movie.
Very much of its time and not many surprises.
Kirk Douglas, in his first film, is very good.
Very pat ending.. Read more
This is my all-time favorite movie. Being a Barbara Stanwyck fan nearly all of my life, I of course had to see this movie. Read morePublished on Aug. 12 2001 by Little Willow
"The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" is a film noir tale that will leave you on the edge of your seat throughout viewing. Read morePublished on June 27 2001 by Kenneth M. Gelwasser
This is an absorbing drama with excellent performances by the cast including Stanwyck, Douglas, and Heflin. Read morePublished on Sept. 1 2000 by Susan Fong
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