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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Black Widow (1954)

An ambitious young girl (Peggy Ann Garner) moves to New York City and immediately begins using people including her uncle (Otto Kruger), wealthy boyfriend (Skip Homeier) and a Broadway producer (Van Heflin) on her climb to the top. But when she turns up dead in the producer's apartment, he becomes the prime suspect and it's a race against time to prove his innocence before he's arrested for her murder. Based on the 1952 novel by Patrick Quentin and directed by Nunnally Johnson. It's a more than decent murder mystery a la LAURA set among the posh theatrical and artistic set in a stylish Manhattan. Although filmed in Deluxe color and CinemaScope, the film is often referred to as noir but I wouldn't call it that. It's just a good old fashioned whodunit though Garner's deadly femme fatale certainly fits in the noir mold. Garner's not bad at all here and one would have thought this film would prove a nice transition from child actress to  grown up roles, but she only did 2 more movies in her lifetime (including Altman's A WEDDING) though she worked steadily in TV. This was director Johnson's second film in CinemaScope and apparently nobody ever told him he could do close ups in the format! The star studded cast includes Ginger Rogers, Gene Tierney, George Raft, Virginia Leith, Reginald Gardiner, Cathleen Nesbitt and Hilda Simms in a remarkably non-stereotypical role for a black actress in the 1950s. 

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