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Black Widow (Fox Film Noir) (1954)

Ginger Rogers , Van Heflin , Nunnally Johnson  |  NR |  DVD
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, Gene Tierney, George Raft, Peggy Ann Garner
  • Directors: Nunnally Johnson
  • Writers: Nunnally Johnson, Hugh Wheeler
  • Producers: Nunnally Johnson
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 4.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.55:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Fox Searchlight
  • DVD Release Date: March 11, 2008
  • Run Time: 95 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0010KHOSA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #90,534 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Black Widow (Fox Film Noir)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by film noir historian Alan Rode
  • Ginger Rogers at Twentieth Century Fox featurette
  • Gene Tierney: Final Curtain for a Noir Icon featurette
  • Interactive pressbook
  • Isolated score track
  • Still galleries
  • Original theatrical trailer

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Ginger Rogers steals the show as a selfish, snide Broadway superstar in Nunnally Johnson's Black Widow, preening, snooping, gossiping, and bestowing air kisses in equal abundance. This late-era (1954) color film noir is as delicious for its fabulous performances as for its dishy look at showbiz, fangs and all. Think of it as All About Eve with murder. Rogers is Carlotta Marin, a grande dame of the thea-tah, married, it would seem happily, to Brian Mullen (Reginald Gardiner). Discussing friends whose marriage is threatened by an alleged affair, Brian assures Lottie they wouldn't face such disgrace. "After all," he deadpans, "we have an understanding." "What kind of understanding?" Lottie asks warily. "The understanding that if you catch me with another woman, you'll break my neck." The two collapse in laughter. Yet at the heart of Black Widow is something grim, the death of a young, ambitious writer named Nancy (Peggy Ann Garner), who gloms onto a theater producer (Van Hefflin), who's in love with his wife, Iris (Gene Tierney, heartbreakingly lovely). Nancy's death appears to be self-inflicted, and yet as each piece of evidence--a weird suicide note, a threatening letter received in the mail--piles up, things begin to point to murder.

The cast is excellent, especially delivering the great backbiting dialogue. And the plot contains more twists than Lombard Street in San Francisco, and will keep viewers guessing, and riveted, to the end. Extras include a great commentary by Alan K. Rode, an expert in film noir, as well as two wonderful featurettes, on the careers of Ginger Rogers and Gene Tierney respectively. Robert Osbourne offers his always insightful thoughts on the roles of Rogers, especially, as she sought to carve out a career after being paired with Fred Astaire. These solo steps are not to be missed.--A.T. Hurley

Product Description

Ginger Rogers, Gene Tierney, Van Heflin. A high-strung, back-stabbing milieu about a Broadway producer who must clear his name after his innocent female proteg+ª is found murdered in his apartment and the real killer may not be done yet. 1954/color/95 min/NR/fullscreen.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
63 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars fun mystery set in the theatre world December 11, 2007
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
"Black Widow" is an entertaining 1950s murder mystery set in the world of theatre, and written and directed by Nunnally Johnson, who made a number of good movies at that time ("How to Marry a Millionaire," "Night People," "The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit," "The Three Faces of Eve"). It stars Van Heflin, Gene Tierney, Ginger Rogers, George Raft, and Peggy Ann Garner as sort of the Eve Harrington of the cast.

(Amazon's habit of listing the cast alphabetically is very misleading. Mabel Albertson has a small part, Reginald Gardiner plays Ginger Roger's husband. But Harry Carter and Richard H. Cutting play policeman, listed on imdb.com, but they are also "uncredited" in the film! So it's totally misleading to see those names at the top of the page.) (Note: this complaint has been corrected on this page, but I decided to leave it because I do note the same issue in other listings, where unknown actors in tiny roles are listed because they're first in the alphabet.)

So that little parenthetical complaint aside, it's a small but fun film. The milieu of theatre is entertaining, with Peggy Ann Garner someone on the way up (or hoping to be), and managing to hang out with successful writers and actors, and starting to seduce several of them. Heflin is the serious husband/playwright and a bit of a patsy, Tierney is the "good wife," and Ginger Rogers is fun as the grande dame actress who annoys everyone a bit. Peggy Ann Garner was the little girl so good in "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." This is one of her adult roles, and she does a good job. It's not a classic, but an entertaining B film with some A list stars and some good dialogue from Mr. Johnson. I'm glad it's going to be out on dvd.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:DVD
What a joy it was to discover that this rarely seen 1950's murder mystery set against the glamour, ambition and back stabbing ruthlessness of New York's Theatre world was finally making it to a DVD release! Often mistakenly referred to as a "Film Noir", "Black Widow", really doesn't fit that bill at all, saturated as it is in glorious colour photography, dazzling costumes, and larger than life characters that are far removed from the types normally associated with the "Noir" genre of movie making. Aside from that minor point "Black Widow", is tremendously entertaining and boasts a superb cast of actors and actresses from Hollywood's Golden Age in a story in some respects in a similiar vein to the legendary "All About Eve". It has the added twist of a murder mystery complete with plenty of Red Herrings thrown in for good measure that really does keep you guessing if you haven't viewed the film before. One of the great surprises of "Black Widow", for me was seeing the sublime Ginger Rogers in one of her most showy,( and I might add very non-traditional for her) later roles from the time when her film career was beginning to wind down. This role for Ginger couldn't be further removed from the beloved characters she famously brought to life at RKO Studios in the 1930's opposite the legendary Fred Astaire. She is a bitchy delight here as the catty and acid tongued "Margo Channing-like", Diva who among a cast including Van Heflin, Gene Tierney, Reginald Gardiner, and Otto Kruger, is a suspect in the murder of aspiring young writer Peggy Ann Garner in the very heart of New York's elite and glamourous Theatre world...........
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not noir, but not bad March 29, 2008
By R. Gale
Format:DVD
First, although this is part of the Fox Noir series, it's not noir. It's shot in color, brightly lit, mostly done on stages, and has no "hard boiled" or low life characters. It's a slick "Who done it," and a reasonably enjoyable one. You can read some of the other reviews for more details on the story and cast. Fox gives us a nice bunch of extras in this DVD -- good commentary and two nice featurettes on Gene Tierney and Ginger Rogers. It's far from a classic, but it's a pleasant way to spend an evening.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "Black Widow" Without A Lot of Bite.... August 10, 2008
By Spinner
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Its really difficult to hate any film with a stellar cast such as Ginger Rogers, Gene Tierney, George Raft and Van Heflin. For that matters, its difficult to hate any of their individual films. Bring them together for one picture and "hate" might be a strong word, but "indifferent" fits the bill. "Black Widow" feels more like a Cinemascope experiment than a cohesive and engaging film. Cinemascope was brand spanking new and you could tell that 20th Century Fox was attempting to churn out as much product as possible in every genre possible. No matter if the material was particularly engaging or the scripts particularly good, the studio seemed to think the public would embrace anything that was spread out on the Cinemascope canvas. "Black Widow" is testament to this. At 94 minutes there is very little here other than a scenery chewing performance by Ginger Rogers, an understated and misused Gene Tierney and a campy story line that can't quite find its footing, even after its predictable conclusion. What does it have going for it? Lush cinematography, gorgeous colors and excellent 1950s chic sets do a lot to keep the viewer glued to the screen. Also, look out for an unusual Ginger Rogers role. She plays against type which serves the plot beautifully.

The DVD of this film is really extra special with not one but two mini-docs about Ginger Rogers and Gene Tierney. Also included is an isolated film score, an interactive pressbook, commentary and an "over the top" trailer that will leave you howling. It is really an excellent group of extras. The picture quality is truly luminous and the soundtrack is well spaced and exceptionally clear.

Movie **1/2
DVD ****
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
GREAT MOVIE
Published 26 days ago by MAXINE DIXON
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent DVD. The DVD plays like the new disc ...
Excellent DVD. The DVD plays like the new disc it is. It arrived on time and in the condition advertised. I'm pleased with this purchase.
Published 1 month ago by Marsha C. Harris
5.0 out of 5 stars Van Heflin dominates
An effective film noir even though it is in color and wasn't made in the 40's. Taut story line that keeps the audience guessing almost to the end as to "who done it". Read more
Published 6 months ago by david erickson
5.0 out of 5 stars Suspense and Suspensful
What a yarn! And what a way to get the audience sitting on the edge of their seats! Wow!! Great movie making aided by Van Heflin's stately performance.
Published 6 months ago by T. U.
4.0 out of 5 stars Black Widow
Saw this movie on Turner Classic Movies and just had to buy it, because it can be enjoyed over and over.
Published 8 months ago by aaron brown
4.0 out of 5 stars Lust and Greed lead to a Murder
Black Widow, 1957 film

"A black widow spider devours its mate." Iris leaves on an airplane to visit her sick mother. Her husband goes to a party. Who are these people? Read more
Published 11 months ago by Acute Observer
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Old movie
This movie was great, The quality of the disc was excellent, no skips, hardly any wear on disc, overall happy with this!
Published 15 months ago by Anonymous
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read in the genre
Great thriller. Saw 90% of it on cable but I had to leave the house. I searched the internet to see if anyone leaked the murderer but no. It wasn't who I thought it was. Read more
Published 17 months ago by latine halstead
3.0 out of 5 stars Colorful A-Budget Murder Mystery
"Black Widow" is billed on DVD as a Fox Film Noir. However, the noir term refers to the mystery since this was a garish-hued CinemaScope production written and directed by... Read more
Published 18 months ago by ThoMc
4.0 out of 5 stars the black widow
i thought this was one of the best movies of the late fifties ginger rodgers was
great i recommend this movie to everyone who likes mysteries and buy it from amazon.com
Published on June 5, 2012 by honourme
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