Behind the Camera: Maureen O’Hara

Maureen was probably one of Hollywood’s great beauties

When discussing classic Hollywood cinema, there are usually several different actors and actresses that come to mind as you murmur the words, “golden age.”

Greta GarboFred AstaireHumphrey BogartBette DavisJames Dean, and Audrey Hepburn, are just a couple of many names on the endless list of legendary classic movie performers.

A woman that doesn’t nearly get enough recognition on these lists is Ireland’s very own ‘Queen of Technicolor’, Maureen O’Hara. 


Born on August 17th, 1920 in Ranelagh, Ireland, O’Hara‘s career lasted 61 years, triumphantly ending in 1991 with the romantic-comedy Only the Lonely starring alongside John Candy. During those six decades, she co-starred with some of the most admired actors in film history.

From Tyrone Power to John Wayne and even Charles LaughtonMaureen O’Hara’s film roles were just an extension of who she was as a woman. 

Whether it be sword fighting with Errol Flynn, planning a summer vacation with Jimmy Stewart, or falling madly in love with John Wayne on the mountainous terrain of rural Ireland, Maureen O’Hara’s filmography is perhaps one of the most underappreciated in classic Hollywood history.

Humble Beginnings

source: Republic Pictures

Strikingly beautiful and blessed with an aura that the camera naturally gravitated too, O’Hara was raised in the sleepy Dublin neighborhood of Ranelagh.

Born to Charlie and Marguerite (née Lilburn) FitzSimonsMaureen has said that her adolescence was “the most remarkable and eccentric that she could’ve hoped for.”

Being the second oldest of six children (and the only red-head), O’Hara lived a relatively happy and carefree childhood. She would often describe her mother in a kind light, saying that she,”inherited [her] singing voice from [her] and that when her mother would leave the house, men would “leave their houses just to catch a glimpse of her on the street.”

O’Hara has also asserted in interviews that she was a rather “blunt child”, saying that she “didn’t take discipline very well.”

As an infant, she was given the nickname, “Baby Elephant” for having a stout physique. Her tomboyish nature had her take part in a number of physically strenuous activities like fishing, riding horses, judo and even Gaelic Football.

O’Hara with her mother, Marguerite FitzSimons in 1948

At the age of 5, she began dancing. O’Hara didn’t take the hobby seriously until a gypsy spotted her and prophesied that she would one day become well-known for her acting skills.

She initially scoffed at the idea, but her parents coaxed her into the thought. Her hunger quickly for fame quickly grew and by age 10 she was working for the Rathmines Theater Company, where she honed her skills in amateur theater productions.

It wasn’t until the age of 17 when O’Hara grew into her stunning looks that casting agents started giving her attention.

By 1937, O’Hara was a full-time actress, working at the Abbey Theatre where she swiftly caught the attention of singer/actor Harry Richman. Richman insisted that O’Hara should travel to London to have a screen test done.

She agreed, and when Maureen and her parents landed on the island she was immediately thrust into the limelight, making her screen debut in the 1938 film Kicking the Moon Around.

First Films

source: Kino International, Ltd 

Although O’Hara didn’t consider Kicking the Moon Around her screen debut, it’s still counted as the first film she’s starred in. However, the movie that she truly believed to be her screen debut was the Hitchcock thriller Jamaica Inn.

Co-starring alongside Charles Laughton, Jamaica Inn is a Hitchcock film through and through. Although it isn’t as recognizable as some of his later drama/thrillers, it holds it’s own as a standalone film.

O’Hara‘s performance received raved reviews, quickly cementing her place amongst Hollywood elite. She was then offered a seven-year contract off the back of her stand out performance.

At first, she and her family declined, citing that O’Hara was far too young to make such a momentous jump in her career. But, after a few drinks and coddling, they caved and Maureen signed a seven-year contract to Mayflower Pictures.

After that she was cast in The Hunchback of Notre Dame in 1939. Boarding the ship liner from England to New York, then taking a train from NYC to Los Angeles, O’Hara‘s Hollywood journey truly began.

Because of her role in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, O’Hara‘s star in Hollywood continued to rise, starring in a number of films like How Green Was My Valley, Miracle on 34th Street and of course The Quiet Man.

She followed those up by starring in a series of John Ford films that, just maybe, cemented her legacy as “Hollywood’s toughest broad.

Later Years

As O’Hara got older, she continued to act and hold her own against some of the best in the business, even acting up until the early 1990s. Stand outs from that era include, The Parent Trap, Spencer’s Mountain, and the very funny Mr. Hobbs Takes a Vacation.

Unfortunately, after a very long life, Maureen O’ Hara would pass away on October 24th, 2015, leaving behind not only a fantastic filmography, but also and incredible legacy as a human being.

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My Obsession with…Linda Darnell

Linda Darnell 1
source: Life Magazine

I was recently listening to a You Must Remember This episode on Linda Darnell and I felt compelled to write something about it.

Linda Darnell was, perhaps, one of the most underrated actresses of her time. With her acting ability often downplayed, she managed to prove her doubters wrong, staring in films like Unfaithfully Yours, Anna and the King of Siam, and most famously, A Letter to Three Wives.

Unfortunately, her career would be plagued with personal conflicts, bad management, and poorly time marriages, eventually culminating with her tragic death on April 10 of 1965.

So, let’s take a trip back to the early 1950s and revisit the woefully overlooked career of, Linda Darnell.


Born Monetta Eloyse Darnell in Dallas, Texas on October, 16th 1923, ‘Linda’ as she would later be called by her Hollywood cohorts, she was pushed into show business at a young age.

Being thrust into the limelight by her mother, Pearl, Linda has more or less been groomed for stardom, becoming a model at 11 and a full-fledged actress at 13.

By 1937, Linda was scouted by a talent agent from 20th Century Fox. She and her family went to Hollywood to do some screen tests, but eventually, Mr. Zanuck caught wind of Darnell‘s actual age and sent her back to Texas.

Heartbroken yet determined, Linda honed her craft and continued acting locally, inevitably returning to Hollywood with a new attitude.

She appeared in several smaller films before landing her big break with 1940’s Brigham Young, co-starring alongside her frequent leading man, Tyrone Power. In the summer of that same year, Darnell worked on The Mark of Zorro where, once again, she worked with Power.

The film managed to be successful and further plunged Darnell into the spotlight. But, unfortunately after that ‘Zorro‘, the studio system didn’t allow her to go after the roles she craved, so, she was relegated to B films that typecasted her.

Luckily, she would bounce back with the wonderful Blood and Sand also starring alongside Power. According to Darnell herself, however, her career would take a sharp downturn after this.

“People got tired of seeing the sweet young things I was playing and I landed at the bottom of the roller coaster. The change and realization were very subtle. I’d had the fame and money every girl dreams about—and the romance. I’d crammed thirty years into ten, and while it was exciting and I would do it over again, I still know I missed out on my girlhood, the fun, little things that now seem important.”


Davis, Ronald L., Hollywood Beauty: Linda Darnell and the American Dream.

Several years, and subpar movies later, Darnell’s career would stall because she refused Daryl Zanuck‘s advances. Pulling herself up by her chinstraps and not letting this get to her, she focused on the war effort, raising money, and performing regularly at the Hollywood Canteen.

After that, Zanuck often overlooked her for many film roles, and her star started declining. Instead, she was cast in roles that didn’t fit her and slowly resented show business.

For the rest of her career, she starred in B-movies, forgettable blockbuster and the occasional hit, like A Letter to Three Wives and Unfaithfully Yours.


The unfortunate thing about Linda Darnell is that she never really had the chance to let her career flourish. Between her rushed childhood and her underwhelming adult career, Darnell never got the chance to settle into her acting.

It’s tragic, really.

Darnell wasn’t only absolutely gorgeous and wickedly talented, she also was quite the lady. Raised with southern charms and a witty personality, Linda Darnell will, hopefully, be remembered alongside other Hollywood greats of the era.

Thank You for 100 Followers, from AGAM!

tumblr_p2r46qhcdg1qk2y5po6_500

gif source: Doses of Grace Tumblr

Well, well, well….how time flies.

About a year ago, I started this blog. I wasn’t really expecting much to be honest with you. AGAM was more of a place to vent some inner thoughts I had about most of the classic films I’ve seen. Never have I imagined that it would grow to be this big. Even though 100 followers doesn’t seem like much, I very much appreciate the time all of you take to read through my writing.

So, I’m thanking you for all of this. The ups and the downs, and everything in between.

Here’s to 100 more!

The Deborah Kerr Blogathon…

hucksters1947

source: MGM

Released in 1947, MGM’s The Hucksters is a rather unique film.

Starring Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, and our blogathon’s star, Deborah Kerr, the movie is particularly unique because it was the American silver screen debut for the Scottish actress.

Directed by Jack Conway, MGM specifically imported Kerr to play the role of Kay Dorrance, which I believe was a brilliant move.

Kerr‘s performance in this movie was a solid one, one that most classic film viewers would very much enjoy.

Like most British actresses, Kerr made the rounds in British films before Mayer decided she should be plucked from obscurity and plastered on every movie screen in the United States.

To get acquainted with her coworkers, Kerr’s husband, a former airman, greeted Clark Gable with great gusto. Seeing as the both of them met during the war, it took no time for not only the Kerr‘s but also Gable to become very comfortable around the both of them.

This pre-production meeting set the tone for the rest of the film, with Kerr and Gable both being standouts.


As for the movie itself, Kerr was absolutely magnificent in the role. The movie was a joy to watch. I don’t want to play spoiler so I won’t describe in detail for you.  But it’s safe to say that the director and the cast did not disappoint.

From Gardner to Gable, and Kerr to Greenstreet, The Hucksters is not only a solid Clark Gable flick but also a perfect way for Kerr to start out her American film journey.

 

If you would to read more entries in this blogathon… click: here.

TCM’s ’50 States in 50 Movies’ Spotlight

MAP

……this is such a brilliant idea

The U.S is a great country, I don’t care what anyone says.

No country is a large and diverse as these 50 different states in the union.

From the golden coasts of California to the Rocky Mountains of the Appalachians, the United States is truly a sight to behold – especially when you have time to burn during the summer.

It’s only fitting that movies and traveling fit together. Turner Classic Movies, better known as ‘TCM’ has begun this fantastic new film spotlight that focuses on ’50 Movies from 50 different states.

Starting in New England, then making its way down to New York City, then with a quick stop down South, then onward toward Florida, going back up to the midwest, then down the Missippi River, all the way out to the Wild West, then eventually ending on the sun-kissed coasts of California.

Every Monday and Tuesday this July, you will be able to enjoy your favorite classic movies while exploring the great open roads of the United States.

monument-valley TCM

source: Lonely Planet

With films like Key Largo, The Philadelphia Story, and High Society to thrillers and dramas like Anatomy of a Murder and A Summer Place to westerns like the iconic Giant, this TCM spotlight has something for everyone.

If you’d like to clear the cobwebs when it comes to catching up on your favorite movies, there’s literally no better time to do this.

So, sit back grab a drink, pop some popcorn, put on your fuzzy slippers and take a tour around the United States – TCM style.

If you’d like to read more about the lineup, click: here

 

The 4th Annual SEX! Blogathon…

Gilda 1

source: Columbia Pictures

You can’t discuss great classic Hollywood movies without talking about the actors that made them.

There have been plenty of leading pairs throughout the years that have been seared into the movie-going public’s mind; Day and Hudson, Bacall and Bogart, Rogers and Astaire – the list goes on.  One couple that doesn’t nearly get enough attention is the superb twosome of Glenn Ford and Rita Hayworth.

Starring in 5 films together during the course of their careers, Hayworth and Ford, in the eyes of the average classic film fan, looked like they were great friends. They were, to a certain extent, but, there’s a reason why I chose them for this blogathon.

In 1946, Gilda was released to moviegoers around the globe to critical acclaim. The sleek production, the angsty storyline and the underlying hate/sexual tension between the two leads made for a thrilling film experience.

GILDA 2

source: Columbia Pictures

I suppose that’s what made Gilda so successful.

Not only is Gilda and Johnny’s relationship one of the main driving point of the picture, it also helps when Hayworth and Ford made the romance seem so unforced.

Scrolling around the internet for hidden classic Hollywood tidbits, I stumbled upon this interesting article about some letters of correspondence between Rita and Glenn.

According to ‘Stars and Letters‘, the pair kept in touch with each other for many years, even inviting one another to each other’s houses for drinks and general fraternizing.

What may look like an innocent conversation to you, may look awfully suspicious to folks with a more keen eye towards covert romance.

Here comes the fun part!

Glenn Ford‘s son, Peter Ford, recently (and by recently, I mean 7 years ago) released a biography that insinuated that his father and Rita had an affair that lasted years. 

gilda 3

source: Columbia Pictures

The funny thing about this is, Peter alleges that Rita even got knocked up with Glenn‘s love child and was more or less pressured to get it aborted for the sake of their careers.

Now, let’s put two and two together.

If the younger Ford alleges that his dad had an affair with Hayworth, then it’s pretty obvious during the production Gilda, clearly – something – was going on between the two.

That explains why their relationship in the movie worked so well. It was built on top of something that was already real and very passionate.

The looks they shared, the way they interacted with each other, and the tender emotional moments all give the movie an extra added layer of sensuality and lust that we see in modern movies like Unfaithful and Mr. and Mrs. Smith.


Gilda will forever be one of the greatest movies of all time but discovering that the two leads were involved make the love scenes even more enthralling.

 

To read more posts in this blogathon, click here.

Classic Movies Are Food For the Soul

mgm_1943

source: MGM’s 20th Anniversary Celebration

When I first got into classic films 5 years ago (I can’t believe it’s been that long) I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Naturally, like any bratty, snotty-nosed teenager, I turned my nose up at those “black and white snoozefests.” It wasn’t until I took a mandatory ‘Cinema Appreciation’ class that I started to *ahem* ‘appreciate’ classic films.

A couple weeks, I began to watch to The Asphalt Jungle. About halfway through, I got unbearably tired and I just had to go to bed.

The next morning I check the TCM on demand (the app is truly God-sent, I highly recommend you download it) to see if the film was still there, lo and behold, it had an expiration date.

Crushed.

I have to admit, I was pretty disappointed, but then I realized the movie served its purpose.

The Asphalt Jungle 2

source: MGM

At the time, circumstances in my life were pretty overwhelming. My college courses weren’t going to plan, the weather down here was dire, and I was struggling with life in general.

That hour of The Asphalt Jungle immediately put me in a better mood. I may not have finished it, but the film took my mind off of my current problems.

This show the power of classic films, I may not have finished it, but it gave me pleasure in another way – emotionally.

And for that, I thank them.

The Best of M-G-M: The Barkleys of Broadway (1949)

Ginger and Fred on Broadway

source: MGM

When discussing famous dynamic duos of yesteryear, there are a number of different couples that spring to mind; Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy, Martin and Lewis are more than enough to satisfy anyone’s movie watching sensibilities.

Perhaps one of the more popular and sexier pairings is the timeless coupling of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.

Filming 10 movies in the span of 17 years (9 with RKO and just 1 with MGM) Rogers and Astaire were truly a force to be reckoned with. If you’ve ever heard the saying “She gave him sex, while he gave her class” more often than not that quote can be attributed to their relationship.

From Top Hat to The Gay Divorcee, everyone and their mother (whether they like to admit or not) has a favorite Rogers and Astaire film. One picture that doesn’t nearly that get enough recognition and love is their musical swan-song, The Barkleys of Broadway.


Released in 1949, The Barkleys of Broadway is a comedic look at the hardships of being a Broadway star and the unintentional consequences and stresses of working with your significant other.

Ginger and Fred on Broadway 2

source: MGM

In the film, Rogers and Astaire play married couple Josh and Dinah Barkley. It’s the opening night of their new play in downtown Manhattan, and despite getting a standing ovation from the audience, behind the scenes tells a much different story.

As as the Barkleys step behind the satin curtain, quickly deafening the roar of the crowd the veneer of stability is tarnished when we find out that Josh is irate at his wife’s brazen flirtation with French playwright Jacques Pierre Barredout (played by Jacques François.)

Naturally being a red-blooded, American male, Josh doesn’t take too kindly to some foreigner ogling his very attractive wife. In retaliation, he confronts Dinah – and not her French boy toy – about the debacle, which only fans the flames even further.

In actuality, Dinah was speaking with Jacques after he made an off the cuff remark about her lack of dramatic roles. Tensions increase further when later that night at an art gallery, another artist compares Josh to Svengali and that Dinah’s entire career hinged on Josh’s command.

After a couple of days of contemplation, Dinah found herself agreeing with the Frenchmen and secretly began shopping scripts with the hope of starring in one.

Astaire and Rogers on Broadway

source: MGM

One weekend, Dinah would get her wish when she and Josh are invited up to Jacques’ bungalow in the cozy fictional town of Danbridge, where he’s celebrating the completion of his new script.

While Josh meanders out into the garden, Dinah questions Jacques’ judgment when she learns that actress Pamela Driscoll (who she’s not very fond of) is cast in the starring role.  Jacques agrees with her sentiments and smoothly asks Dinah if she would like the role instead; guilt-ridden, she accepts his offer.

A couple days later after the twosome returns to New York after their weekend getaway, Josh discovers his wife’s secret when he accidentally sees her rehearsing lines from a script that obviously didn’t pertain to their stage act.

Jumping to a conclusion faster than Wile E. Coyote plots to catch Road Runner, Josh accuses Dinah of having an affair. She scoffs at this accusation and promptly walks out on not only Josh but everything they’ve worked for.

With the freedom to be an independent woman and a chip on her shoulder, Dinah scurries back to Jacques, cementing her place as the new leading actress in his latest play.

Fred and Ginger on Broadway

source: MGM

Josh attempts to perform the next batch of “Barkley” shows alone, while Dinah spends her newfound freedom rehearsing for Jacques’ upcoming play. Seeing as though Dinah spent the majority of her career as a comedic actress, the transition to more serious roles proved to be a challenge.

Things for the Barkleys get worse when their sardonic family friend Ezra Miller (played by Oscar Levant) deceives them into performing together again at a hospital benefit.

Being the iconic duo that they were, their performance receives a standing ovation. Josh suggests that they get back together, feeling a bit nostalgic about their past accomplishments. Dinah rejects his offer, claiming that he’s, “taken her services for granted for too long.”

Fair enough.

But, that doesn’t stop Josh from being a doting husband.

When Dinah isn’t paying attention during rehearsals, Josh has a habit of watching her practice through a small window hidden behind various curtains and props. When he sees her struggling with some of the lines one day, he takes the initiative to call her using a very fake French accent disguised as Barredout using a nearby payphone.

How scary thoughtful!

Astaire and Rogers on Broadway

source: MGM

A few days and many painstaking practices later, Jacques’ play finally premieres. With Josh watching from behind the curtain, he stands in awe of his wife as she pours her heart out on stage.

The play ends and Dinah’s performance passes with flying colors. While tears are being shed and champagne is getting popped backstage, Dinah finds out that it was, in fact, her husband who was giving her the tips that she initially believed were from Barredout.

What Josh thought would be a pleasant surprise for his wife turned out to be one of disgust. Dinah is “shocked and annoyed” at Josh’s harmless ‘prank’ and she admits to him that she was, indeed, having an affair with her director.

Naturally, this leaves Josh absolutely devasted and on the verge tears, until Dinah relents and quickly retracts her statement revealing to her husband that this was just, as he would put it, a ‘harmless prank.’

In the end, the Barkleys reconcile not only as a musical duo but as a couple, thus forgetting all hardships they went through for the past couple of months.

Conclusion and Some Interesting Behind The Scenes Information

Astaire-Rogers on Broadway

source: MGM

The Barkleys of Broadway is a very good musical. It’s not the best, nor is it the worst Astaire/Rogers collaboration, but it holds its own.

Many classic movie fans may not consider it to be on par with some of their other films, but it can still be considered a picture worthy of praise.

The film is impeccably directed and flawlessly paced; there was never a dull moment in this movie. Bringing together Ginger and Fred again for what I thought was an unnecessary nostalgia trip is a decision that should be lauded.

The intriguing thing about this is that the role of Dinah almost went to MGM’s resident musical expert Judy Garland.


In 1948, Astaire and Garland gained raved reviews for their performances in the musical comedy Easter Parade. This prompted producer Arthur Freed to give the ‘go ahead’ to the writing team of Betty Comden and Adolph Green to begin a new screenplay that would reunite Judy and Fred in another musical.

The title? The Barkleys of Broadway.

Things were all going to plan for Freed and Garland until her long battle with depression started to catch up with her, forcing her to drop out of the project. The stars finally aligned when a couple of days later after the first reviews were released for Easter Parade, Rogers sent Freed a telegram congratulating him on his success. 

Fully aware that he needs a replacement for his film – and fast, Freed reached out to Ginger again and delicately asked her if she’d care to work again with her former dance partner.

Ginger-and-Fred on Broadway

source: MGM

Apparently, Ginger was rather irritated the question but it was a necessary evil for Freed. Out of a leading actress for his upcoming movie, desperate times called for desperate measures, right?

Luckily for Freed (and the movie watching public for that matter), Ginger accepted the offer making The Barkleys of Broadway their 10th and final movie together.


As far as musicals go, The Barkleys of Broadway is certainly not the best, but for what it lacks in plot, it more than makes up for it in the chemistry between Astaire and Rogers.

I supposed that’s the biggest appeal of this movie.

It isn’t something you watch to enjoy with friends, it’s a movie you keep hidden away in your personal collection, only bringing it out when you’ve finished binge-watching the rest of the Rogers and Astaire‘s filmography.

A perfect ending to 10 years of cinematic excellence.

 

The Influence of Paris On Classic Hollywood Cinema

Hollywood in Paris

source: Paramount Pictures

Lise: Paris has ways of making people forget.

Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It’s too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way.

-Leslie Caron as Lise and Gene Kelly as Jerry Mulligan in An American In Paris (1951)

Paris.

Since it’s industrial revolution in the mid-1800s, the self-proclaimed,”City of Lights” has grown to represent a number of different things in the human psyche.

Whether it be the sound of the cobblestone streets beneath your feet as you walk beside the Seine River, the monotone “bonjour” as you stride into your favorite Boulangerie or the thousands of tourists who are jostling with each other in a race to see who can snap the most cliché selfie, Paris has been tourism hot-spot for decades.

In the eyes of the classic film fan, however, Paris holds a special connotation in our hearts.


Arguably starting with Humphrey Bogart‘s legendary quote during the climax of Casablanca, the City of Paris has been a staple in pop culture since the advent of the movie camera. It’s no wonder that many classic film directors have chosen “The City of Love” as the backdrop to several of their movies.

Paris in movies

“……French New Wave at it’s finest.”

So, what makes Paris so special?

In the classic film sense, it encapsulates everything that’s so extraordinary about that specific era in movie history.

Paris is the place where a lonely writer can turn into an international marvel, where an ex-GI can chase his dreams of being a painter, and where a homely librarian can turn into a top model; Paris is the place where dreams become reality.


There are several movies that embody this feeling.

An American in Paris, Funny Face, and Moulin Rouge! are some of the better examples of this phenomenon. Other films in this category include The Last Time I Saw Paris, Les Girls, and 1958’s Academy Award Winning film GigiEven the plot of light-hearted romantic comedies like Stanley Donen‘s Charade has a feeling of improbability and absurdity that could only to recreated in a city like Paris.

 

Paris in Hollywood 2

When good Americans die, they go to Paris.” 
― Oscar Wilde

In summation, Paris’ importance to classic Hollywood has been immense. Filmmakers, actors, actresses, producers, and screenwriters have all come together to help create a lore to this city that’s been so prevalent in our movie history.

The next time you happen to view a film that takes place in the ‘City of Love’, be sure to take a good look at its surroundings, you never know what magic Paris will conjure up this time.

Poor Lizabeth Scott….or should I say, Van Heflin?

Lizabeth and Van in TSLOMI

source: Paramount Pictures

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers is a peculiar film.

It pretends to be one thing, then by the end of the movie, it horrifyingly surprises you. At first, you believe it’s going to be a tender movie, celebrating the bond of love and friendship; 15 minutes in, however, that all changes for the worst.

If you’re a classic film watcher, you’ve probably seen this picture recently. Seeing as though TCM has become the sole purveyor in distributing these classic morsels, it’s become more and more common for folks in our blogosphere to overlap reviews of certain movies – this happens to be one of them.

In summation, the film follows the life and loves of a woman named Martha (played by Barbara Stanwyck) and the people around her that become collateral damage due to her actions.

Starting in her youth, Martha invariably had a habit of using people. Whether it be hiding away in a boxcar to get away from her overbearing aunt, to eventually killing her out of spite, Martha Ivers always knew that her past would catch up with her- and boy did it come back with a vengeance.

Van and Lizabeth

source: Paramount Pictures

18 years after that fateful incident, childhood friend (and modern day drifter) Sam Masterson finds himself back in the same town that he vigorously fled almost 2 decades earlier.

He returns to find a city cloaked with the name of a former friend: Ivers.

Shocked but slightly amused, Sam takes his freshly crashed car into a ‘Ma and Pa’ shop to get it repaired. While kicking back with a cigarette in one hand and a ball of money in the other (Sam’s known to have a serious gambling problem) he overhears on the radio that Walter O’Neil (played by Kirk Douglas in his screen debut) is running for public office.

“This scared, meekly kid that I knew is making his living in politics?” Sam says to himself. “How could he garner the gusto to do this?”

“Ivers” the shop owner retorts; “Martha Ivers.”

Van and Liz in TSLOMI

source: Paramount Pictures

When you view “The Strange Love of Martha Ivers” your focus instantly goes to Walter and Martha and the intricacies of their relationship. What doesn’t get enough attention is the great worry and distress that Sam (and later his ex-con paramour ‘Toni’ Marachek expertly played by Lizabeth Scott) go through due to the tyrannical decisions of Martha and her submissive husband.

The pair meet when Sam takes the liberty to stroll past his old stomping grounds while his car’s being mended.

‘Fixing’ for a drink, he runs into Ms. Marachek, standing there with her perfectly coiffed hair and a sense of sadness surrounding her. They go for a drink and Toni tells Sam that she recently got out of jail and is dangerously close to going back if she violates her probation.

Being the slick guy he is, Sam believes he can sweet talk his old pal Walter (the county’s current D.A) into letting Toni get off easy.

The-Strange-Love-of-Martha-Ivers-1946

source: Paramount Pictures

Sam goes into Walter’s office and strikes up a conversation with his old acquaintance; about 10 minutes into their chat, in walks his wife, Martha Ivers. She reacts to his presence like her husband wasn’t even there. Martha smothers him with love and affection, essentially “cuckolding” her husband in plain sight.

This hurts Walter’s already crushed ego and from that point on, Sam’s life would be made a living hell.


First, Walter strong-arms Toni into setting Sam up, which leads him to be badly beaten by a bunch of Walter’s “friends” and Toni to reach her emotional breaking point. Then, they try to force him out of town, but Sam is far too proud to let that happen. Lastly, (and perhaps the most gruesome) Walter attempts to kill Sam himself hoping to conceal the secret that’s been haunting him and his wife for years.

Feeling bad about what her husband is putting him through, Martha takes Sam out on a late evening drive. She confesses everything to him, including the culprit of her aunt’s murder.

The only catch is Sam didn’t have a clue that Martha was the one who pushed her aunt down those set of stairs that night.

TSLOMI

source: Paramount Pictures

Martha uses this opportunity to rekindle her romance with Sam, leaving his new lover, Toni home alone sobbing into her pillow. Sam, being a red-blooded American male, is torn between his new love and his old. This is just another example of Martha using anyone around her to get what she wants.

Toni is an emotional wreck and contemplating leaving Sam in favor of her old life. Sam is confused over whether or not he should continue pursuing this relationship with Martha, and Walter? Well, he’s given up on life. He’s had it with everything including his wife, Martha. He decides to end it once and for all.

In the film’s iconic finale, Sam is invited to the Ivers’ manor to settle the situation. Drunk and rowdy, Martha finds out about this meeting and wants to be apart of it.

A couple of moments later, Walter falls down the stairs due to his drunkenness, echoing shades of how Martha’s aunt passed away. Martha urges Sam to take the gun that Walter keeps in his drawer and use it to kill him. Sam scoffs at this idea and carries Walter to his study to sober him up.

the Strange Love

source: Paramount Pictures

Martha doesn’t like this and threatens to shoot Sam in “self-defense.”

“It could work,” he says, “only if I was there to witness it.” With that being said, he leaves and doesn’t look back. As he’s walking away he hears gunshots, a murder-suicide.

What a relief.

All of that he went through, everything Martha put him through, everything Toni went through. The suffering, the heartbreak, the stress – pure torture. Fortunately, he finds Toni about to leave the hotel room they’ve been sharing for weeks and tells her what happened.

“It’s over, he says. “It’s finally over.”

The pair drive off into the sunset, never to look back at the grief and pain they suffered in a little wretched city named “Iverstown.”