Saturday, October 23, 2004

Went looking for a sure thing, and I found Strange Love

Sometimes I just want a sure thing, a movie that I know will deliver the goods. So I rented a copy of a Barbara Stanwyck noir classic I'd never seen: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. It's an elegant concoction of the standard noir elements: a doomed, double-dealing dame, a squared-jawed hero caught in her web, a dark perverse melodrama of a script, twisted and classy, taking the worst in human nature and making it into entertainment. Noir is a carnival ride through the dark heart of the soul.

The movie didn't disappoint. Stanwyck was her beautiful, lethal self, this time with a backstory that made her deeds plausible. Van Helfin played the square-jawed lead, a noble savage in a suit and tie. It was Kirk Douglas' debut in films, as a good boy gone rotten (for the love of Barbara, of course.) A good (and deadly) time was had by all, just as expected. The screenplay, by Robert Rossen, was nominated for an Oscar, and it was that good and then some.

But there was a bonus on this "sure thing," an actress I'd never heard of before and whom I'll never forget. Lizabeth Scott played a supporting role and stole every scene she appeared in. Any woman who can wrest a scene from Stanwyck has a remarkable screen presence, and this was only her second film. Imagine a woman with Veronica Lake hair, with Kathleen Turner's voice, and with the ability to tell you her backstory with the slightest curl of a lip. So now you'll pardon me while I slip back to Netflix to see if they've got any more of her small filmography...

Best line: "Go ahead and hit me, Sam, I got it comin'."

Oh, yeah. Sure thing. Thumb's up.


Post a Comment

<< Home