THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946) B/W 117m dir: Lewis Milestone
w/Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas, Judith Anderson, Roman Bohnen, Darryl Hickman, Janis Wilson, Ann Doran, Frank Orth
From The Movie Guide: "A dark and perverse melodrama which stars Stanwyck as the wicked Martha Ivers, a wealthy and powerful woman who has gained control of the small town of Iverstown, Pennsylvania, after inheriting a large family fortune. She lives with her weakling husband Walter (Douglas, in his first film), a district attorney who is preparing to make a bid for mayor. What no one in the town knows, however, is that Martha and Walter share a deep secret --- as a young girl, Martha murdered her aunt while planning to elope with then-sweetheart Sam Masterson. In order to protect the family name, an innocent man was executed for the crime. After a long absence, Sam (Heflin) returns to Iverstown. The couple fear that he is preparing to blackmail them, but their paranoia only makes him more curious about Martha's childhood secret. A cruel film noir which, although it starts somewhat slowly, builds to a frenzied state of suspense in which the characters, all of them vile, have a perverse hold over one another. The result is an often gripping film which shows the collaborative efforts of such talents as [producer Hal B.] Wallis, Milestone, [writer Robert] Rossen, [composer Miklos] Rozsa, art director Hans Dreier, and costumer Edith Head. The film also includes among its credits four future directors: screenwriter Rossen, Kirk Douglas, assistant director Robert Aldrich, and, as a bit player, Blake Edwards."
From Variety 's review of the film: "Story is a forthright, uncompromising presentation of evil, greedy people and human weaknesses. Characters are sharply drawn in the Robert Rossen script, based on Jack Patrick's original story [Love Lies Bleeding], and Lewis Milestone's direction punches home the melodrama for full suspense and excitement. ... Character portrayed by Stanwyck is evil and she gives it a high-caliber delineation. Douglas makes his weakling role interesting, showing up strongly among the more experienced players. Best performance honors, though, are divided between Heflin and Scott, latter as a Heflin pickup."
Patrick was nominated for an Oscar for Best Original Story.