Hang on to your fedoras, noir lovers – ‘cause on Tuesday, April 30th, TCM is serving up a quartet of quintessential noir features that are sure to satisfy even the most finicky of film fanatics. Each of the films rank among the best that the noir era has to offer. You can’t go wrong with any one of them, but if you can, catch ‘em all!
Here goes . . .
The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
Starring one of my favorite actresses, Barbara Stanwyck, this noir has it all – according to one reviewer, it offered “a stealthy plot of murder, false witness, assault, lust perfidy and tender love.” Not only that, it featured the great Van Heflin, my favorite Lizabeth Scott performance, and Kirk Douglas in what I consider to be one of the most memorable screen debuts in all of cinema. The film centers on the title character, a ruthless and steel-willed heiress, her alcoholic husband, their childhood pal who returns years later to their hometown, and a soft-hearted parolee. This fascinating foursome will have you glued to your TV set from the opening reel until the credits roll.
Favorite quote: “What am I guilty of? What were their lives compared to mine? What was she? A mean, vicious, hateful old woman who never did anything for anybody. What was he? A thief, a drunk, someone who would have died in the gutter anyway. Neither one of them had any right to live.” Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck)
Bet you didn’t know: The film was based on an Oscar-nominated short story called Love Lies Bleeding.
This is another Van Heflin starrer, but this time, he’s in a far different role than the one he played in Martha Ivers. In this feature, Heflin plays a cop (named Webb Garwood – one of my favorite noir names!) who falls ass over teakettle for a housewife (Evelyn Keyes) he meets when she calls the authorities to report a prowler. Before long, Webb has come up with a seemingly perfect plot to snag the woman of his dreams – but like all best laid plans, this one goes kerplooey!
Favorite quote: “You’re a real cop, aren’t you? You want everything free.” Susan Gilvray (Evelyn Keyes)
Bet you didn’t know: At the time The Prowler was filmed, Evelyn Keyes was married to director John Huston.
Not often seen, but well worth your time, Framed tells the story of an out-of-work mining engineer (Glenn Ford) who becomes involved with a scheming femme (Janis Carter), who teams with her lover to embezzle a bankroll and frame the hapless engineer for the crime. And that’s just the beginning!
Favorite quote: “If you go to the police, you’ll hang. . . I’ll hang, too.” Paula Craig (Janis Carter)
Bet you didn’t know: The film was directed by Richard Wallace, one of the founding members of the Directors Guild of America. He died just four years after the film’s release.
This is one movie that I simply can’t get enough of. I don’t know if it’s Rita Hayworth’s stunning beauty, the great lines, George Macready’s cold-as-shaved-ice performance, or the memorable number “Put the Blame on Mame” – but whatever it is, I watch this movie every chance I get. Glenn Ford also stars in this feature, this time as a two-bit gambler who becomes entangled in a triangle of passion and deceit with a powerful casino owner (Macready) and his wife, Gilda (Hayworth).
Favorite quote: “I can never get a zipper to close. Maybe that stands for something – what do you think?” Gilda (Rita Hayworth)
Bet you didn’t know: In real life, Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth were close friends – according to Ford’s son, they had a “very tender, lifelong affection.”
So there you have it – from early morning to the middle of the night, TCM is airing – on Tuesday, April 30th – some of the most outstanding noirs this dark and shadowy era has to offer. So don’t blow it. Be there.
You only owe it to yourself.