The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

In The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, relationships formed in childhood lead to murder and obsessive love. Martha (Barbara Stanwyck) causes the death of her Aunt (Judith Anderson) and inherits a fortune. The only witness, her childhood love Sam Masterson (Van Heflin) witnesses the murder and disappears. Martha marries Walter (Kirk Douglas), a weak, alcoholic failure whom she has, because of her power in the town, made District Attorney. Because of car trouble, Sam returns to town and meets Toni … More

Rating: PG
Genre: Drama, Mystery & Suspense, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Robert Rossen, Robert Riskin, John Patrick
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 29, 1998
Paramount Pictures


as Martha Ivers

as Sam Masterson

as Antonia 'Toni' Marac...

as Walter O'Neil

as Mrs. Ivers

as Mr. O'Neil

as Sam Masterson as a B...

as Martha Ivers as a Gi...

as Secretary

as Hotel Clerk

as Detective No. 1

as Walter O'Neil as a b...

as Special Investigator

as Bus Driver

as French Maid

as Crap Shooter

as Crap Shooter

as Detective No. 2

as Taxi Driver

as John O. Butler

as Plainclothesman

as Lynch:Butler

as Dempsey the Garage O...

as Waiter

as Jail Matron

as Bartender

as Newspaper Clerk

as Sailor

as Waitress

as Detective

as Policeman

as Policeman

as Lynch the Butler
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

All Critics (14) | Top Critics (4)

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

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

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

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 23, 2012
Top Critic

Full Review… | March 25, 2006
New York Times
Top 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.

Full Review… | July 2, 2012
Combustible Celluloid

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

Full Review… | June 19, 2012
Creative Loafing

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.

Aj V

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.

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?

Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers Quotes

– Submitted by monsieur r (3 years ago)
– Submitted by monsieur r (3 years ago)
– Submitted by monsieur r (3 years ago)

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