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The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

Barbara Stanwyck , Van Heflin , Lewis Milestone  |  Unrated |  DVD
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott, Kirk Douglas, Judith Anderson
  • Directors: Lewis Milestone
  • Writers: John Patrick, Robert Riskin, Robert Rossen
  • Producers: Hal B. Wallis
  • Format: Black & White, Full Screen, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: October 25, 2005
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #279,896 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Strange Love of Martha Ivers" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

Although this was director Lewis Milestone's only venture into the realm of noir, it remains a classic of the genre. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers stars Barbara Stanwyck as the title character, a tough, spoiled, willful heiress married to the local D.A., Walter O'Neil (Kirk Douglas), a weak-willed alcoholic. When old friend Sam Masterson (Van Heflin) suddenly returns to town after many years away, he approaches Walter to ask his help with the case of Toni Marashek (Lisabeth Scott), a friend who has been falsely accused of a crime. Sam is surprised, at first, to learn of Walter's marriage, knowing both of the parties, but quickly begins to put the pieces together. It turns out that Martha's tyrannical aunt (Judith Anderson), met an untimely end on the night that Sam left town, and Martha fears that Sam will reveal what he knows about that night, thereby destroying the lives of both she and her husband. Consequently, she begins to plot against Sam, who she also loves in her own twisted fashion. Every element seems perfectly in place in this typically guilt-saturated noir, with superb direction from Milestone, a memorable score by Miklos Rosza, and an outstanding performance by Kirk Douglas in his film debut.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Melodrama Than Noir, And Not Bad December 20, 2005
Some people call this a noir, and a good one. Some call it a psychological study of guilt. I think it's a melodrama, but a well-crafted one. What moves it from noir to melodrama for me is that there are two weak motivating actions for the plot; the first (the death of the aunt) doesn't have enough power to justify the drama, and the second (a conviction of an innocent man) is barely mentioned until the end of the movie.

Sam Masterson (Van Heflin) is driving west when he decides to go through Iverstown. He has a car accident and has to stay in town until his car is fixed. He meets a young woman, Toni Marachek (Lizabeth Scott), just out of jail and on probation for a crime she wasn't guilty of. Sam decides to go to the district attorney to see if he can help her. Years before as young kids, Sam and the DA, Walter O'Neil (Kirk Douglas), were sort-of friends, tied together by their friendship with Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck).

Now O'Neil is married to Martha. He's running for re-election. Martha inherited Ivers Industries and is the wealthiest woman in town. She's a force to be reckoned with. She inherited millions when her aunt fell down a flight of stairs 18 years ago...the night she and Sam were planning to run off, when Walter was in the house with her and Sam. Her aunt (Judith Anderson), a rigid, disapproving, condescending woman, fell with the help of a crack on the head from a cane wielded by Martha. A few years later a man was hanged for the crime, prosecuted by Walter with testimony from Martha. They married and now live a loveless life, with Walter still the uncertain and sometimes scared child he used to be and Martha a controlling woman. Walter drinks heavily and Martha is contemptuous of him.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FINE MELODRAMTIC THRILLER August 10, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
It's a fine little race to watch, with everyone trying to stay one step ahead of each other in this malevolently decadent thriller about love, marriage,... and murder. Barbara Stanwyck is cunningly vicious in her role as a woman whose mysterious and intriguing past forced her to give up her childhood sweetheart, (Van Heflin, in a well-executed performance) bound her to marry a man she hated (Kirk Douglas, in an auspicious film debut)... and made hers one of the richest and most modern industries in America. But now her tightly knit secret is beginning to unravel... her husband is beginning to drink, her ex-flame is back... and he's trying to solve a famous crime committed in the town years and years ago. A remarkable film, with the suspense of a Hitchcock thriller, atmosphere of a Wilder noir, and the acting of a Wyler drama, come together to make this noir a chilling and memorable experience, ranking with "Double Indemnity" and "North By Northwest". A must-see for fans of film noir.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Image Entertainment did a good job on this DVD September 9, 2004
By bixfan4
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
In response to "Good movie yet awful copy" from "Noir": Your experience is common: videos and DVD's from Gotham, Dark City, and Alpha are very poor quality. I purchased the Image Entertainment DVD of Strange Love (ASIN: 6305944369) and can tell you it's probably the best print of the film you're going to find. Picture sharpness is good, sound is acceptable, and there are no missing frames to cause a "jumpy" picture. The brightness & contrast are normal for most of the film, except for a few early scenes where the picture looks washed out and grey. According to the research I've read, after this film dropped into the public domain, no one took the responsibility for preserving it, and as a result the best surviving print has suffered a lot of deterioration. However, I can easily recommend the Image Entertainment version of Strange Love Of Martha Ivers. Please note, that is NOT a blanket endorsement of all Image Entertainment DVD's -- for example, they did a TERRIBLE job on another Lizabeth Scott movie, Too Late For Tears -- it looks as bad as anything from Alpha or Gotham, yet Image charges a premium price for it. Skip Too Late For Tears, but definitely buy the Image/Hal Roach DVD of Strange Love. And while you're at it, why not write to Paramount Studios, 5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, CA 90038, and ask them to give us a DVD of another Barbara Stanwyck film noir, The File On Thelma Jordan (Paramount owns the rights). Let's all let the studios know we will support film noir and other classic films!
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Rating poor-quality Blu-ray October 19, 2012
Unfortunately the Blu-ray released in 2012 isn't very good. Its been scanned from not-great prints from the Library of Congress, and then digitally cleaned up a tiny bit, but the result is not remotely up to the level of, say, recent B&W Blu-ray releases of Casablanca or All About Eve. Apparently Paramount itself owns better prints, so in theory there could someday be a better version than this.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rain That Never Stops September 11, 2005
It's pouring rain as this dark noir melodrama opens, and after the night is over, it will always be raining for Martha Ivers. Lewis Milestone directed this tale of a life-long guilt that has festered until misplaced suspicion destroys one person and puts another out of her misery. There are good performances from a great cast, none better than Lizabeth Scott's as a girl down on her luck and hoping against the odds for something good to happen. She is the outside element to three lives bound together since childhood by a crime that has haunted two of them into adulthood.

This is a strange noir in many respects, mostly due to Milestone allowing the moviegoer to see the story in chronological order, rather than using flashbacks. It creates sympathy for the twisted Martha Ivers, because we know how one selfish moment of hatred in her youth set her on a coarse she can not change. It has been raining inside her ever since, until the water is sick and stagnant, but it always keeps coming. At the same time, however, we are rooting for the vulnerable Scott, hoping she'll be the victor in a battle she's not sure she can win.

Judith Anderson is Mrs. Ivers, little Martha's (Janis Wilson) aunt. She's none too nice and on a rainy night Martha causes her death in the heat of the moment, only her pal Walter (Mickey Kuhn) a witness. But they both think their friend Sam (Darryl Hickman) saw the crime also, and ran away. He did run away, but before the event that would change their lives forever.

It is nearly two decades later, and the adult Sam Masterson (Van Heflin) has an accident just outside of Iverstown. It brings back memories of when he was a brash kid, and the girl who now controls both Walter (Kirk Douglass) and the town.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre Transfer of a standard Noir Fim.
This film has not aged well but it is interesting to see what people found entertaining. This one must have been in public domain for a long time because it's been easily available... Read more
Published 12 hours ago by H Sires
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love how this works.
Published 1 month ago by Ken Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Excellent, speedy service.
Published 3 months ago by Robert W. Gustafson
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding! Good Print too
This is my favorite Stanwyck film noir, better than Double Indemnity. A psychological thriller that keeps you guessing, where the plot flips over every second! Read more
Published 9 months ago by You mean she's NOT Irish?
5.0 out of 5 stars People: Yesterday, Today and the Future
I really enjoyed watching this DVD. Barbara Stanwyck of course is an excellent actress. Her character in this movie are multiple. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Sheila V. Grant
5.0 out of 5 stars Film Noire Classic
If you love film noire, this is a classic. Elements of revenge, love, retribution and a final reckoning make this excellent viewing.
Published 10 months ago by LadyDi13
5.0 out of 5 stars Stanwyck at the top of her game
Stanwyck is at the top of her game as she tries to arrange the town, people and the love of her life for her gain. A very good movie to watch. Read more
Published 11 months ago by denelle m. manick
5.0 out of 5 stars First Rate
The film is directed very well, the script first rate and the 4 principle performers excellent. All-in-all a fine film and beautifully structured.
Published 15 months ago by Stephen D. Fisher
4.0 out of 5 stars "Couldn't you see blackmail in his eyes?"
Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin and Kirk Douglas play cat-and-mouse in THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS (1946), a peculiar noir/melodrama hybrid which has a fascinating story premise... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Byron Kolln
4.0 out of 5 stars good movie
This is not a great movie but certainly worth watching. Kirk Douglas is so easily manipulated by Barbra Stanwyck. Read more
Published 18 months ago by dsb
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