The Strange Love of Martha Ivers


The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

Critics Consensus

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Total Count: 10


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,743
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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 Martha thinks when Sam asks Walter to intervene in the case of Toni Marachek (Lizabeth Scott), who has been unjustly imprisoned. It seems that, as a young boy, Sam was in the vicinity when Martha's rich aunt (Judith Anderson) met with her untimely demise. What does Sam know? And what dark, horrible secret binds Martha and Walter together? Directed by Lewis Milestone, and based on John Patrick's Oscar-nominated original story, Love Lies Bleeding, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers creates in Martha a unique and interesting, driven, obsessed, and spoiled character, but one not without sympathy. Barbara Stanwyck is outstanding as Martha, with her predatory smile and sharp, manicured nails. Kirk Douglas is surprisingly convincing as a lost, sad, weak man, who loves his wife, but is unable to gain her respect. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers eventually lapsed into public domain and became a ubiquitous presence on cable television.

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Barbara Stanwyck
as Martha Ivers
Van Heflin
as Sam Masterson
Lizabeth Scott
as Antonia 'Toni' Marachek
Kirk Douglas
as Walter O'Neil
Judith Anderson
as Mrs. Ivers
Roman Bohnen
as Mr. O'Neil
Darryl Hickman
as Sam Masterson as a Boy
Janis Wilson
as Martha Ivers as a Girl
Ann Doran
as Secretary
Frank Orth
as Hotel Clerk
James Flavin
as Detective No. 1
Mickey Kuhn
as Walter O'Neil as a boy
Charles D. Brown
as Special Investigator
Matt McHugh
as Bus Driver
Catherine Craig
as French Maid
Sayre Dearing
as Crap Shooter
Harry Leonard
as Crap Shooter
Max Wagner
as Detective No. 2
Tom Fadden
as Taxi Driver
Gladden James
as John O. Butler
Thomas Lockyear
as Lynch:Butler
John Kellogg
as Plainclothesman
Walter S. Baldwin
as Dempsey the Garage Owner
Al Murphy
as Waiter
Kay Deslys
as Jail Matron
Bob Perry
as Bartender
Olin Howland
as Newspaper Clerk
Betty Hill
as Waitress
Tom Dillon
as Detective
Tom Schamp
as Policeman
Kernan Cripps
as Policeman
Thomas Louden
as Lynch the Butler
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Critic Reviews for The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (2)

Audience Reviews for The Strange Love of Martha Ivers

  • Apr 06, 2019
    One of the best film noirs ever made. It's a shame there isn't (to my knowledge) an excellent print of the movie. Nonetheless, this movie is loaded with excellent performances, fine direction and a deep story. that holds up decades later.
    Aldo G Super Reviewer
  • Jun 03, 2018
    Rarely has a film about deep-rooted psychosis been presented with such an even-handed touch. Van Heflin plays a normal guy (yeah, quirky maybe, and damaged, but basically normal) who returns to the scene of his twisted formative years to discover two of his old friends have not fared as well. Oh, they might be rich, but they're as messed up as can be. Babs Stanwyck and Kirk Douglas are little more than two-dimensional examples of their neuroses but both manage to imbue their characters with necessary depth. One of the better films that you will ever see.
    Kevin M. W Super Reviewer
  • May 28, 2017
    There are a few good moments in this noir film from 1946, and it's a fine cast with Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, and Kirk Douglas, but overall it's overwrought, muddled, and I have to say, about 30 minutes too long. It starts off strong enough, with a young girl accidentally killing her cruel aunt during a thunderstorm in a house without power, in front of a boy who is a friend of the family and her boyfriend who she had intended to run away with. Flash forward 17-18 years, and Van Heflin (the boy who ran away on his own) returns to find the other two (Stanwyck and Douglas) married and in positions of great power in the town. Perhaps one character who confuses the script more than she's worth is Lizabeth Scott, playing a love interest of Heflin's. The film degenerates into melodrama, a confusion of motivations, dramatic music that will remind you of the old Star Trek series, and poor dialogue. It is interesting towards the end as Heflin tries to determine who the evil mastermind is between Stanwyck and Douglas, but the ending itself is poor. This one is overrated, and it's hard to understand the high review scores.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Sep 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.
    Andre T Super Reviewer

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