Cassie's Movie Reviews
  past features
  cool links

Categories this film falls into:

Film Noir

the strange love of martha ivers (1946)

A woman with everything - and a man who could take it all away.

Lewis Milestone

John Patrick (story)
Robert Rossen
Robert Riskin

Victor Milner

Barbara Stanwyck
Van Heflin
Lizabeth Scott
Kirk Douglas

This film was my first conscious introduction to film noir. I had seen films considered noir, but never really thought much about them. Then I caught this on AMC and thought, wow, that's what all the fuss is about. I'm not saying it's the best example of this genre out there, but it's definitely one of my favorites.

The basic plot: Barbara Stanwyck (Martha Ivers) kills her stern Grandmother and then inherits everything. The only people that know the truth are her husband, Kirk Douglas (Walter O'Neil) and her true love, Van Heflin (Sam Masterson) who has just returned to town....


Barbara Stanwyck. The ultimate femme fatale. The queen of film noir. All bow to Barbara.
Kirk Douglas in his film debut. Wow, what a start - staring opposite Barbara Stanwyck. This role, I think, is one of the few times he has starred as a weak, yes-man.
Van Heflin and Lizabeth Scott. They have good chemistry onscreen.


Sam meeting Toni (Lizabeth Scott) - sitting on the step, crossing her legs - classic noir introduction to a woman. Toni isn't the femme fatale in this one, but she is mysterious - you're not quite sure if she's dangerous or not.
Discussion about why Walter got drunk between Walter and Martha. The two faces extremely close - the rapid fire dialogue - fantastic.
Martha inviting Sam over to feel him out and see why he came to town - catching up, etc.
Martha coming in from seeing Sam - the conversation about whether Sam was staying or not.
The look on Martha's face when she realizes Sam isn't going to kill Walter.
Very cool ending. SPOILER.


I'm sorry I was caught. - Martha Ivers
The road curved, but I didn't. - Sam Masterson
That pine soap makes you tingle all over. - Toni
- There's something very personal about soap. Almost as personal as a toothbrush. - Sam
- I won't use your toothbrush. - Toni
I'm not the best of people. I'm just Toni Marachek. - Toni
I'll go back with you. - Toni
- Good, I wanted you to say that. - Sam
I wasn't going to shoot. - Walter
- I wasn't going to wait and see. - Sam
Martha, I'm not sure that I've ever known you. - Sam
Got a riddle for you, Sam. Maybe you can help me solve it. It's a little riddle called what's to be done about me, Martha and you. Sounds just like a poem. If it rhymed, it would rhyme with murder. - Walter
I thought you loved me. - Martha
- I thought I did, too. - Sam
- Now you hate me. - Martha
- Now I'm sorry for you. - Sam
I missed a bus once and I was lucky. I wanted to see if I could be lucky twice. - Toni