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USA 1957
Directed by
Gert Oswald
85 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Crime Of Passion

Feminists would have a field day with this story about a smart newspaperwoman (Barbara Stanwyck), who throws over everything to settle down in suburbia with a dull detective (Sterling Hayden). She soon tires of the banality and starts scheming to advance her hubby’s career with disastrous results.

In itself there is little to recommend this film other than Stanwyck’s performance although even this is a problem as it is too vigorous to sit comfortably with the dictates of Jo Eisinger’s perfunctory script. The film opens with Stanwyck’s sassy reporter,,Kathy Ferguson, being involved in an investigation involving a woman who has murdered her husband. This however turns out to be merely a pre-echo of what is to come and mainly serves as a set-up to introduce Kathy to her future husband, Bill Doyle (Hayden) and his partner, Capt. Alidos (Royal Dano) who crosses her badly when he tells her that she should be “raising a family and having dinner ready on the table for your husband when he gets home”. 

This differenc  of perception of a woman’s place is indeed the heart of the film but unfortunately it is not an idea explored in any substantial way and it is only its own ideological closure which makes it of interest as in the time-honoured manner, the intransigent woman is brought to heel.  

If the basic requirement of Kathy suddenly throwing over her career to marry the unimaginative copper doesn’t stick, the unlikeliness of the idea is compounded by the fact that Stanwyck is not the kind of actress known for dialling down her performance. That the script crunches through her remarkable personality changee with complete sang froid, turning her into a gushing bride, doesn’t help.  There is some nice material depicting the mind-numbing boredom that Kathy discovers in ‘50s suburbia but having realized her folly, rather than get a divorce she comes up with a scheme to get her husband promoted to head of the department, replacing his boss (Raymond Burr) with whom she is actually closer in spirit. 

This scheme, however cock-eyed, is hardly a crime of passion, indeed it casts Kathy as the classic calculating film noir female who will ultimately kill to get what she wants (although a promotion is hardly of the level of cupidity usual to the genre). Once again all this is merely a scriptwriter’s contrivance and shows no credible explanation, psychological or otherwise, for Kathy’s behaviour.

There are some tasty ingredients here but the dish is undercooked and the flavours fail to coalesce. 




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