Sunday, October 02, 2022

Tonight's Movie: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946) has just been released in an excellent Blu-ray print by Kino Lorber.

When I revisited the movie today I described it to a friend as "soapy, murdery goodness." It's a very dark movie, yet it's also a lot of fun in a jaw-dropping kind of way.

I first saw THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS at UCLA as part of a Kirk Douglas Centennial tribute in 2016.

I wrote a very detailed review at that time, including sharing some interesting background information provided in an introduction by Alan K. Rode, who happily did the commentary track for this disc.

This is one of those rare reviews where rather than "reinvent the wheel," I'd like to refer readers to click over to my original review, then come back here to finish this Blu-ray review.

For a thumbnail plot sketch, the film is about a trio of troubled teens (Darryl Hickman, Janis Wilson, and Mickey Kuhn) who grow into even more troubled adults (Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck, and Kirk Douglas). When Heflin returns to town after an absence of many years, Stanwyck and Douglas assume he's there to blackmail them, while he's got to figure out why they're so wary.

Murders abound in the lives of Stanwyck and Douglas's characters, but if Heflin knows what's good for him he'll head back out of town fast with Toni (Lizabeth Scott), a woman on probation he's just met -- who's ironically by far the most likeable and ethical of the lead quartet.

This 116-minute film was written by Robert Rossen, based on a story by John Patrick, and directed by Lewis Milestone.

While there's murder aplenty, in the end the film strikes me as more of a character study of troubled -- even warped -- people, as we learn which ones might have a future and which are past redemption. All four lead actors are outstanding, and that's coming from someone who rarely praises Kirk Douglas.

The movie was beautifully shot in black and white by Victor Milner. There are plenty of glam shots of both the leading ladies, but the film is also stunningly noirish at times. A final shot through a window in the distance is a jaw-dropper.

THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS fell into public domain and, like THE TURNING POINT (1952), has been kicking around for years in poor-to-indifferent prints. Thanks to Kino Lorber this film is now available for home viewing in a great-looking print, which Kino's website says was "remastered in HD by Paramount Pictures from a 4K scan of the 35mm fine grain."

In addition to the previously mentioned commentary track, the Blu-ray also has a gallery of trailers for seven other films available from Kino Lorber.

THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS is another excellent release by Kino Lorber which I recommend.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


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