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The Blue Gardenia

There was nothing lily-white about her -- the clutch-and-kill girl they called: The Blue Gardenia
The Blue Gardenia
Deeply distraught that her GI ex-boyfriend plans to marry another woman, Norah Larkin agrees to go out on a date with lothario Harry Prebble. Norah's drunken night out with Prebble ends in a hazily remembered confrontation and the next day a startling discovery: Harry has been murdered, and the police have found Norah's personal effects at the scene. Tipped off to the breaking news, reporter Casey Mayo invites Norah to tell her side of the story.


John Chard
A Letter to an Unknown Murderess. The Blue Gardenia is directed by Fritz Lang and adapted to screenplay by Charles Hoffman from the short story "Gardenia" written by Vera Caspary. It stars Anne Baxter, Richard Conte, Ann Sothern, Raymond Burr and George Reeves. Music is by Raoul Kraushaar and cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca. Norah Larkin (Baxter), after receiving some horrible news, ends up drunk and at the mercy of a Lothario in his apartment. The next morning she wakes up with the distinct feeling she may have committed murder. More solid than anything spectacular, this minor Lang is never less than interesting. The Blue Gardenia of the title is a nightclub, one where Nat King Cole no less, sings the title song. However, it's the local newspaper that is the key element of the story, the place of work of ace journalist Casey Mayo (Conte), who gets in deep with the story and of course that means Norah as well. There's some sparky dialogue as the story ticks away, with Sothern (sadly underused) wonderfully waspish, the murder mystery element remains strong enough, while there's dark at work as well (Burr is effectively on a mission to date rape). However, the pairing of Lang and Musuraca should be a dream team, but although there's the odd flash of noir visualisations during night sequences, you can't help but lament more wasn't provided for Musuraca to weave his magic. A good show from the cast helps ease the pain of the script's inadequacies, especially as regards the not very clever final revelations. So all in all, it's more a case of a mystery melodrama with noir touches than anything thrilling, and really it's one for Lang fans to tick off their to see lists, not to be visited again. 6.5/10

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