Saturday, January 3, 2015

Black Widow (1954) film noir with Rogers, Tierney, Heflin & Raft helming this ship!

Starring: Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, Gene Tierney, George Raft, Peggy Ann Garner, & Reginald Gardiner
Directed By: Nunnaly Johnson
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Costumes: Travilla 

 This is a terrific "Film Noir" done by Fox that takes pieces from other gems such as; "All About Eve" and combines them into a dark gem. This time rather than having a lead actor and actress we have an ensemble motion picture where questions what a young woman who is eager to have a
successful life truly go do such dark lengths to get it.....I truly love seeing Ginger Rogers light up the screen in the very few times in this film giving us rather than romance, dance, nor comedy we see her in a very dramatic role. I love the entire cast (honestly the least of my favorite of the actors is Peggy Ann Garner). I just did not like her more wooden approach to her role opposed to the veterans around her.
If you are a film buff whom has either enjoyed the genre of Film Noir or is looking to be immersed into it than look no further than this is one to have on your list! Gene Tierney is lovely in this film much more reserved and sits down all too often rather than being more up and active. This is one of Gene Tierney's last starring roles of her career and for a fan like myself it is difficult to watch and know that in the back of my mind. Van Heflin and George Raft work so well together as friends and the icy relationship of Ginger Rogers character with Van Heflin is my personal favorite where one can see that they truly are both very verbal and strong willed, never to back down!

The period is 1954 and the setting is New York City and to be more exact Manhattan. We see that Peter Denver (Heflin) is seeing his wife Iris Denver (Tierney) to the airport to see her ailing mother. Peter promises to Iris that he will attend the lavish party of Carlotta "Lottie" Marin's (Rogers) and her husband Brian Mullen (Gardiner) before going home to rest. One can only see by Peter's response that he truly does not enjoy Lottie's company and would rather be at home reading. The importance of his attendance is due to Peter being a famous Broadway Producer whom is working on the current theatrical production in which Lottie stars in. The best face forward is the game that Peter needs to play for the evening and decides to do so.

The lovely home that Lottie lives in is filled with numerous amounts of people. Peter walks in and meets on the balcony a very lonely girl named Nancy "Nanny" Ordway (Garner). This young lady speaks quickly to Peter asking him to please say something to her. The rationale is that her mother told her that if a lady attended a party and within 30 minutes did not have a gentleman speak with her she might as well be over...a very harsh thing for a mother to say to her daughter! Peter is more than please to talk to Nancy and they exchange pleasantries. Peter is astonished that this young lady knows who he is as a famed Broadway Producer and invites Nancy out for dinner. Peter upfront states that as Nancy knows he is married and that this is for simply dinner out and nothing more. They both agree and start to exit the part until Lottie looking define stops Peter in his tracks. Lottie is shocked that her friend is leaving so soon and with this young lady. Peter assures Lottie that it is for a simple dinner where he then will be home in time to speak with his wife and tell her about Nancy so there would be no need of Lottie to do it. Then with judgement looked upon them from Lottie and some choice words from the actress to Nancy they both leave. 

Both Peter and Nancy have a good evening out and Iris is in fact told. We then see later that Nancy

starts to see Peter more and more with dropping hints about being interested in him. Nancy with her conversation with Peter since they visit after their first dinner out finds out that Iris had an affair though ended years ago. This then also allows Nancy to use choice words of for her favor that Peter truly does not pick-up on. After roughly three weeks of both Peter and Nancy talking there is a set-up agreed upon. The agreement is that Nancy is a writer and needs a place of solitude to write which enters in Peter's home which she can utilize until Iris arrives home. Nancy goes to the apartment during the day to solely write where Peter is at work.

The whole situation starts to unfurl where someone is found dead within Peters apartment leaving at first one person identified as the prime suspect. As in any good film noir their are twists and turns that one can not simply make a quick whim of guilt, you never know whose the true killer until much later in the film! Such fantastic costumes made by the famed Travilla and once again Fox Films does an excellent job with this release. Let me know what you think of this Film Noir gen!

Sketch by Travilla for an outfit worn in the film by Ginger Rogers

Original poster released in Brussels.