The Strange Love of Martha Ivers - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers Reviews

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Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
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.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ December 11, 2009
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.
flixsterman
Super Reviewer
January 21, 2009
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?
Super Reviewer
February 12, 2008
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.
Super Reviewer
½ January 12, 2008
This is less a showcase of Barbara Stanwyck than it is a memorable screen debut for Kirk Douglas. But if you like Stanwyck, this is definitely worth the watch. She can definitely play characters from one end of the complexity spectrum to the other, always with depth. Naughty or nice, she brings everything to the table.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
March 29, 2007
Barbara is evil as only she can be
Super Reviewer
½ December 26, 2006
Stanwyck was great even if the movie wasn't.
Tecnoandre
Super Reviewer
September 26, 2010
Black-and-white film noir released in the United States in 1946, starring Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott and an young Kirk Douglas in his film debut. The movie is based on the short story "Love Lies Bleeding" by playwright John Patrick, using the pseudonym Jack Patrick, and was produced by Hal B. Wallis. The screenplay was written by Robert Rossen and Robert Riskin, who was not credited, and was directed by Lewis Milestone. The film was entered into the 1947 Cannes Film FestivalOn a rainy night in 1928 in a Pennsylvania factory town called Iverstown, Martha Ivers (Janis Wilson), a young girl yearning to escape from the guardianship of her wealthy, domineering aunt, is caught trying to run away with her friend, the street-smart, poor Sam Masterson (Darryl Hickman).[2] Martha is taken home. Later that night, Sam comes for her, but hides when her aunt hears Martha's beloved cat wandering on the staircase. When Mrs. Ivers attacks the pet with her cane Martha intervenes, with fatal consequences.
Dark and shadly with depressing atmosphere this is a great movie.
jimbotender
Super Reviewer
½ September 6, 2008
Unnecessary extra half hour in a fine (up to a point) soft-core thriller.I won't complain much about the relatively "slow" timeline although I must state it's the almost forgettable due to Douglas' overacting and fake rudeness of his character which ruins the whole of the film.Milestone shows hints of steady cuts and a smooth tempo fit to the U.S. 40's mood but that's not enough for someone to discover something original to the storyline.
Super Reviewer
½ July 14, 2008
Paranoia, lust, guilt, fear, suspense and intrigue combine in a movie which kept me hooked until the very end. Nice twist too! Definitely worth checking out if you're a Stanwyck fan. She was amazing, as always! Kirk Douglas in his film debut also gives a strong performance.

As for those who have pointed out the Lizabeth Scott/Lauren Bacall similarities, I must agree!
January 9, 2014
A little something off the To-Watch Pile for Movie Shame Monday and a lot of fun, with a great turn from Kirk Douglas as a wild card thrown back into the lives of his childhood friends, who remain convinced that he witnessed their crime and is there to blackmail them in some fashion.

It's interesting to watch the 'little guy' square off against the rich and powerful, if only because they think they can bully him around.

Well worth a look if you can catch it on cable or track it down for rental.
½ September 8, 2011
It'll have to be me or you; and unless you do it now, it'll be you.

A man who was orphaned as a boy returns to his home town to find his boyhood crush married to an alcoholic politician. His crush and her husband performed heinous acts to the crush's aunt and the man charged with her murder. Will the man fall for his former crush's tricks again or will he find a new love and escape town once again?

"You don't own the whole world."
"I own enough of it so that you'll always be brought back here."

Lewis Milestone, director of Pork Chop Hill, Mutiny on the Bounty, Ocean's Eleven (1960), The Purple Heart, A Walk in the Sun, Of Mice and Men, Edge of Darkness, and Two Arabian Knights, delivers The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. The storyline for this picture is a bit methodical but definitely worthwhile. The cast delivers excellent performances and includes Kirk Douglas, Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck, and Lizabeth Scott.

"Scared of thunder?"
"No. I like it."

This recently aired on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) as Kirk Douglas' first ever movie. Supposedly, Milestone was looking for the next great Hollywood movie stars and someone recommended Kirk Douglas and a star was born. As a whole, the movie is a bit bland in terms of the delivery of the content, but the conclusion is excellent and the movie turns out to be worthwhile.

"I am sorry I was caught."

Grade: B-/B
½ January 2, 2011
Stanwyck must've been the female equivalent of Tyrone Power... She gets far too many lengthy monologues in every movie she's in
May 7, 2010
The plot is a little too complicated to briefly summarize, but it's a fantastic noir premise that sets up an exploration of manipulation, desperation, power and obsession. A little slow moving, but definitely worth it for the high points, especially the climax. Just when you think it's going to wuss out with a Hollywood-ized ending, BAM. Barbara Stanwyck and Kirk Douglas are both absolutely superb as devious but severely damaged people. And Lizabeth Scott has a wonderful, shabby Gena Rowlands-esque quality to her as the "good girl". But there are a few drawbacks. Van Heflin in the lead is actually the weakest link in the cast... he's okay, but he pales next to the other primary actors. I also felt the direction could use some more pizzazz. There's few indicators that this is the same guy who did such a masterful job with All Quiet on the Western Front (although maybe my impression of that movie has been inflated in hindsight). The Miklos Rozsa score is far too prominent and needs some dialing back. And if you want to nitpick: this movie contains one of the phoniest murders ever. When young Martha Ivers kills her aunt (not a spoiler, it happens early in the film), she looks like she's tapping her forehead with a magic wand. With a little tightening up and a little more zip, this would be one of the finest noirs I've ever seen. As it is, it's still damn near the top.
½ January 16, 2010
An engrossing and creative film-noir, "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" offers an interesting and unpredictable story with quite a bit of commentary about its characters. Van Heflin gives a particularly memorable performance, with plenty of help from Barbara Stanwyck and a very young-looking Kirk Douglas.

The story is very well-conceived, showing first a tumultuous series of events in the youth of its main characters, and then showing how their adult lives are still shaped by things that happened long ago. The three child actors are all able to make their characters ring true with the adult versions played later by the stars, and the script makes good use of the opportunities that the setup offers.

The tension is built up skillfully, and it never lets up. Although the danger and the drama involving the characters is more than enough to carry a good movie, it also brings out plenty of observations about the characters' personalities and their decisions in life, and this adds additional depth to an already very interesting story.
½ December 11, 2009
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.
May 29, 2008
This movie was okay, it was really long and predictable. The role that Lizabeth Scott played just really annoyed me. I'm not sure if it was her acting or just her, but I know the movie probably whould have been ten times better without her character.
½ May 26, 2008
i like the story of this movie.....{lizabeth scott reminds me of lauren bacall; they have very strong simiiarities}....Stanwyck's performance's A-OK! Van Heflin's also great, & the same with the young Kirk Douglas.
½ May 16, 2008
I'm so far behind that these are going to be super short (even for me). Maybe I can catch up.

[b]The Lady Vanishes[/b], an Alfred Hitchcock ("Family Plot") movie mostly set in the confines of a train, is a mystery where one woman notices another has gone missing, but no one believes her. Of course. Good. Of course. But not Hitch's best.

I liked [b]Marnie[/b], another Hitchcock film, better. Tippi Hedren ("Dead White") stars as a con girl who falls for her mark, Sean Connery ("The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"). But then he turns the tables on her. There's also fits of hysterics, horses, crazy mothers, color flashbacks and birds. Different than the average Hitchcock, still very suspenseful and good.

[b]The Strange Love of Martha Ivers[/b] was definitely strange. A young girl kills her overbearing aunt, but a friend witnesses the event and things change forever. Most of the story occurs when the participants are grown-up and full of bitter mind games. This is classified as a film noir, so it has much of the darkness, femme fatale and brooding anti-hero typical to that genre.

[b]Margot at the Wedding[/b] is quite possible the worst movie I have ever seen. Wow. Horrible people saying ridiculous, hateful things to each other and behaving as humans never should. Jack Black ("Be Kind Rewind") is the best thing about this movie. Sad, but true.

Anther After Dark film, [b]Wicked Little Things[/b] is definitely not the best, but there are some very creepy moments. A bunch of kids were buried alive in an old mine and have since been terrorizing the families in the area. When some new people move into an old house, they begin piecing together the mystery and things come to a head. Look for creepy old houses, zombie children and some annoying teenagers getting eaten alive.
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