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The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

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Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 2
Fresh: 2 | Rotten: 0

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Average Rating: 3.5/5
User Ratings: 1,635

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Movie Info

In The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, relationships formed in childhood lead to murder and obsessive love. The wealthy Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck) is the prime mover of the small Pennsylvania town of Iverston. Martha lives in a huge mansion with her DA husband, Walter O'Neil (Kirk Douglas), an alcoholic weakling. No one knows just why Martha and Walter tolerate one another....but Sam Masterson (Van Heflin), an Iverstown boy who returns to town, may just have a clue. At least that's what

Apr 29, 1998

Paramount Pictures

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All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (10) | Rotten (0) | DVD (8)

A gripping film noir, all the more effective for being staged by Milestone as a steamy romantic melodrama.

February 9, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Pervaded by his guilty-liberal fascination with power and money.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers is one of those really dark films noir that tends to get away with more than it seems to be getting away with.

July 2, 2012 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

Vintage thriller that too often veers more toward mopey melodrama than sizzling film noir.

June 19, 2012 Full Review Source: Creative Loafing
Creative Loafing

One of the most effective and underrated noirs of that classic era.

June 2, 2010 Full Review Source: Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

Though well-crafted, this potboiler is a second-tier film noir, mostly known for featuring Kirk Douglas screen debut, as Stanwyck's weakling hubby; in a few years, Douglas will develop his more characteristic persona as a tough, tenacious he-man.

November 5, 2007 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

Buscando ecoar o infinitamente superior Pacto de Sangue (também com Stanwyck), o filme desperta interesse por sua moral ambígua, mas se enfraquece em função do final implausível. Mas Douglas impressiona já em sua estréia.

April 5, 2006
Cinema em Cena

A forgotten classic with great stars, get reminded...

October 15, 2005 Full Review
Hollywood.com

slick entertainment with a taut narrative and shrewd direction

December 10, 2004 Full Review Source: Filmcritic.com
Filmcritic.com

An engrossing film noir.

October 5, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Audience Reviews for The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

I liked this movie, it's suspenseful and has a good story and good actors too. It doesn't list Kirk Douglas, but he's in the movie too.
October 21, 2010
ajv2688

Super Reviewer

Martha Ivers, as you will learn in the first 10 minutes of this movie, is crazy. As a young teen, she makes repeated attempts to run away from her stodgy and controlling old aunt (who also happens to be incredibly wealthy) and join the circus along with her hoodlum boyfriend, Sam. However, she is also friends with Walter, the son of her tutor who, although is kind of wimpy and unexciting, none the less sticks by her and entertains her. Certain events take place which, while beneficial to Martha, Walter and his father, lead inadvertantly to Sam leaving town, and he doesn't return home for 18 years. When he does come back, he meets an attractive girl named Toni, and the two are soon (very suggestively) enjoying adjoining hotel rooms. Martha meanwhile, has grown into a giant of industry, creating an enormous amount of the town's wealth through the new factories she's built. Walter too, has done well for himself, he's now the district attorney, running for re-election that is all but guaranteed, "a sure thing". When Toni gets into trouble for parole violation, Sam goes to his old friend Walter to see if he'll get her out of jail as a favor for old times' sake, but Walter sees Sam as a threat. Thinking he's after blackmail, Walter has Sam beaten and dumped on the outskirts of town. But is it blackmail that he's really afraid of, or is it jealousy over Martha? Martha it seems, is only with Walter out of convenience, or even out of fear. Her past binds her to these two men for life you see, and whereas Walter she can control, Sam she has no power over, and it makes her crazy, or horny, or both. It's a recurring theme between Martha and Sam, she tries to kill him, he gets all worked up and starts kissing her. It's rather unusual to find in a 1940s movie a hero making love to a married woman (even The Big Sleep's story was changed to keep Philip Marlowe from committing adultery). In fact, it's rather difficult to side with Sam at all, as he plays tough guy with the ladies, makes love to married women and in the end, does attempt a blackmailing racket on the married couple after all. The Martha Ivers character is never satisfactorily explored; is she manipulative and vindictive, or is she just sad, scared and mentally unbalanced? It's all the more strange that, out of all the leading characters, she's one of the more minor ones of the film (despite the star power of Barbara Stanwyck and the fact that it's the title role), taking a backseat to Toni (Lizabeth Scott), Walter (Kirk Douglas) and Sam (Van Heflin). The Strange Love of Martha Ivers is about watching some unpleasant or amoral people doing unpleasant and amoral things. I don't think there's one sympathetic character in the whole movie. Also, I'm not so sure some of the elements in the film have aged that gracefully: the dialogue (or is it the acting?) Van Heflin engages the two females in is a little cheesy at times (and alot cheesy at others). Still, for a piece of 1940s mainstream filmmaking, it plays loose with the moral codes of that era and gives us a subliminable kinky subtext.
December 11, 2009
Mr Awesome
Devon Bott

Super Reviewer

Whether its paperback fiction like Lady of Burlesque, or a tear-jerker like Stella Dallas, or the noir-ish suspense of The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Barbara Stanwyck delivers. I just can't take my eyes off of her. She's never just set dressing, even when she's silent she speaks volumes. Wow.

*NOTE: Does anyone else think that Lizabeth Scott looks like a poor man's Lauren Bacall?
September 29, 2009
flixsterman
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

This movie has possibly the most mela-dramatic music ever.

Acting is solid all round, and the direction is great. Unfortunately the story is the big let down here with a rubbish ending.
March 3, 2008
kenstachnik

Super Reviewer

    1. Martha Ivers: Its the only room I didn't change. [on showing her childhood room to Sam]
    2. Sam Masterson: We were just a couple of kids.
    3. Mrs. Ivers: Sorry that you ever left here. [to Sam]
    – Submitted by rick b (2 years ago)
    1. Walter O'Neil: And you. What have you done?
    2. Walter O'Neil: All life is a gamble.
    3. Sam Masterson: You'll do it for old times sake.
    4. Martha Ivers: A sure thing is never a gamble.
    5. Martha Ivers: There's only way you'll find out, release the girl.
    6. Sam Masterson: I haven't been on the rubberneck tour for years. [on being shown the house of Martha]
    – Submitted by rick b (2 years ago)
    1. Sam Masterson: Better get out of those wet clothes.
    2. Toni Marachek: I was so lonesome tonight, I was about to died.
    3. Sam Masterson: LIke I said, we leave tomorrow.
    4. Sam Masterson: You don't have to tell me who you are, I can tell by the smell.
    5. Sam Masterson: You scared little boy. You're just about to do your old pal a great big favor.
    – Submitted by rick b (2 years ago)
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