Why won’t anybody listen to Barbara Stanwyck?! Witness to Murder had the unfortunate timing of being released shortly before Rear Window. Both films share a similar paranoid peeping tom premise, but Witness to Murder lacks Hitchcock’s polish. The film received positive reviews, particularly for John Alton’s camerawork, but Rear Window completely overshadowed it in the long run. There’s plenty to enjoy here though, including a devilishly wicked performance by George Sanders as a refined sadist.
Barbara Stanwyck always seems to find herself in some form of a domestic nightmare. As the dark queen of noir, Stanwyck frequently donned the cowl of of the femme fatale in a litany of murder dramas: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, The File on Thelma Jordan, No Man of Her Own, and, most famously, Double Indemnity. This morning I watched her in another suburban shit show, Crime of Passion. It was Stanwyck’s swansong with film noir, and boy howdy does she go out with a whimper. And a bang. A bang right through her husband’s slimy boss’ head.
My wife’s mother recommended this Bogie melodrama to me, so I gave it a shot last night. I really like when Bogie got to show his dark side, particularly when he plays a disturbed artist close to the edge like In a Lonely Place. The Two Mrs. Carrolls fulfilled my thirst for a menacing Bogie and then some. Man, he gets some wicked moments in this one. He goes completely over-the-top for the entire third act, but that doesn’t really bother me when it comes to eerie murder mysteries. Over-the-top works in this film and only helps heighten the gothic atmosphere. With echoes of Gaslight, Hitchcock’s Suspicion, and the Bluebeard legend, The Two Mrs. Carrolls is a fine addition to the husband black widower genre. Also, who doesn’t want to see a child steal scenes from Bogie?
Might as well tear through the rest of Robert Siodmak’s noirs, huh? The File on Thelma Jordon is a crime melodrama featuring a couple of Siodmak’s favorite recurring motifs: the double cross and dual personalities. Starring Babraba Stanwyck as the titular character, the film also features Wendell Corey as one of the most sympathetic male leads I’ve seen in a noir yet.