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Monday, July 20, 2015

The Blue Gardenia (1953)

A young woman (Anne Baxter) receives a letter from her boyfriend, serving in the Army in Korea, writing that he's going to marry someone else. Emotionally distraught, she accepts a date from a lech (Raymond Burr) who gets her drunk and takes her to his apartment. When he attempts to rape her, she hits him on his head with a poker. When his dead body is discovered the next day by the police, she slowly begins to unravel. Based on a story by Vera Caspary (LAURA) and directed by Fritz Lang, this is a rather minor entry in Lang's film noir canon. Oh, it's well done but Charles Hoffman's screenplay never rises above workmanlike and Lang can't quite give it the edge he brought to such classics as SCARLET STREET, THE BIG HEAT or even WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS. But the cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca (CAT PEOPLE) gives the film an ominous sheen and Ann Sothern (as Baxter's room mate) brings some welcome sass to the wisecracking dame role (wasn't Eve Arden available?). With Richard Conte as an opportunistic journalist, Richard Erdman, Jeff Donnell, George Reeves, Celia Lovsky and Nat King Cole who sings the title tune.

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