Strange Love Of Martha Ivers, The

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Strange Love of Martha Ivers, The


English   Country: USA   Year: 1946

Strange Love of Martha Ivers, The

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Lewis Milestone


Barbara Stanwyck; Van Heflin; Lizabeth Scott; Kirk Douglas


DramaFilm Noir


Sam Masterson returns to his hometown after nearly two decades away. His return sends shockwaves through the town as the Ivers, the town's preeminent couple, fear Sam may have witnessed a crime they were involved in years before. Black & White.


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(Average=4.56 out of 5; Total Number=16)

Van And Liz Are A Great Team - ****1/2 / ***** (rating=4)

This review refers to the Alpha Video (Gotham) DVD.

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.


It's a fine little race to watch, with everyone trying to stay one step ahead of each other in this malevolently decadent thriller about love, marriage,... and murder. Barbara Stanwyck is cunningly vicious in her role as a woman whose mysterious and intriguing past forced her to give up her childhood sweetheart, (Van Heflin, in a well-executed performance) bound her to marry a man she hated (Kirk Douglas, in an auspicious film debut)... and made hers one of the richest and most modern industries in America. But now her tightly knit secret is beginning to unravel... her husband is beginning to drink, her ex-flame is back... and he's trying to solve a famous crime committed in the town years and years ago. A remarkable film, with the suspense of a Hitchcock thriller, atmosphere of a Wilder noir, and the acting of a Wyler drama, come together to make this noir a chilling and memorable experience, ranking with "Double Indemnity" and "North By Northwest". A must-see for fans of film noir.

"Don't Look Back, Baby. Don't Ever Look Back." (rating=5)

Young Martha Ivers shares a terrible secret with her two childhood friends, Sam Masterson and Walter O'Neil concerning the death of her Aunt. Years pass, and Martha (Barbara Stanwyck) is now married to District Attorney O'Neil (Kirk Douglas). They still live in Iverstown (named for Martha's wealthy family). Their marriage is not a happy one, but it's sealed by shared guilt. Martha is now the wealthiest woman in Iverstown, and she and her husband either own or control everything in this corrupt small town.

One night, a car accident strands Sam (Van Heflin) in Iverstown. It's mere coincidence that he's back after an absence of almost twenty years, but Walter and Martha assume he's there to blackmail them. Their guilt alerts Masterson to the possibilities of the situation, and so he sets out to exploit it.

"The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" is a classic entry in the genre of film noir. Kirk Douglas, in his first screen role, stars as Walter O'Neil. Obviously the studios did not yet have Douglas type-cast in the strong hero roles he later assumed. In this film, he plays mealy-mouthed O'Neil--a spineless man who's pushed around by his wife. O'Neil's love for his wife is sick and corrupted. He knows she despises him, but he's going to hang onto her no matter what it takes. Lizabeth Scott stars as Toni--the girl Sam meets on his first night in town. Scott enjoyed a brief career--which was extinguished by an expose in "Confidential" magazine. Scott reminds me very much of Lauren Bacall, and this may sound like heresy, but I prefer Scott. She's rough around the edges and seems to be the genuine article. Bacall is just slumming, but Lizabeth Scott seems to belong with the dregs of society--just waiting for some man to rescue her and take her home. It's not a stretch of the imagination to envision her as Toni--the hard luck girl who's just released from jail.

Barbara Stanwyck is, of course, one of film noirs great leading ladies. She's ice cold and cruel in this role. But there's more to Martha than meets the eye. In Martha's first hysterical scene with her aunt, we get a glimpse of the hard, heartless woman she'll become. And yet Martha claims to love Sam--but her love is twisted and sick too. She's not capable of loving anyone in any normal sense of the word. Van Heflin as Sam--is a cipher. He's a WWII veteran with a checkered past. As a child, he dominated Walter, and when Sam blows back into town, he picks up where he left off. Yet ultimately, Walter and Sam seem to recognize each other's position. The relationship between Martha, Sam, and Walter dominates this fascinating film. The DVD is excellent quality. For film noir fans, I wholeheartedly recommend "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers." It's a fantastic film--displacedhuman


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