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The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack)

4.2 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Classic film noir doesn't get much darker than this sordid tale of betrayal, blackmail, intimidation and murder. Nor are you likely to find a more impressive cast in a noir feature than the one assembled here, and available here for the first time ever in High Definition Blu-Ray. Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck) is an heiress-turned-successful businesswoman. Sadly, she's spent much of her life bearing the burden of a horrific childhood event involving the rich, domineering aunt (Judith Anderson) who raised her, while subsequently enduring an unhappy marriage to Walter (Kirk Douglas), the local District Attorney. But everything could change for this power couple when her childhood sweetheart Sam (Van Heflin), now a drifter, shows up back in town one fateful night alongside new girlfriend Toni (Lizabeth Scott). Uncharacteristic for the noir genre, which typically featured B-movie production and B-level casts, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers was a comfortably-financed project with an adept collection of actors and an established director (but none the lighter on plot or cinematography). It is also the first-ever film role for actor Kirk Douglas. He was recommended for the job by none other than Lauren Bacall (who he knew from acting school) and delivers an intriguing performance as the sorry husband. Director Lewis Milestone, meanwhile, was no stranger to award-winning work, having previously won Oscars for Two Arabian Knights (1927) and All Quiet On The Western Front (1930). He would also go on to direct the original Oceans Eleven (1960). Film buffs will also want to keep an eye out for an un-credited cameo by a young Blake Edwards, who appears as a sailor hitching a ride with Sam! Bonus Features Include: Spanish Subtitles, Audio Commentary with William Hare, Postcard, Trailer, and Before & After Restoration Demo!

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Van Heflin, Barbara Stanwyck
  • Directors: Lewis Milestone
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Blu-ray, Black & White, Dolby, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region A/1 (Read more about DVD/Blu-ray formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: HD Cinema Classics
  • DVD Release Date: May 29, 2012
  • Run Time: 116 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B006OT0V4Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,119 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: DVD
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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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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Format: Blu-ray
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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Format: DVD
This review is for the 2005 Paramount DVD release.

The story starts out in 1928 in a small industrial town known as Iverstown. A young teenage girl named Martha Ivers and a teenage boy named Sam Masterson try to hop a train and escape. Martha is caught and is returned to her wealthy aunt's mansion. The animosity between Martha and her aunt is a volatile as fire and gasoline. That same evening a boy named Walter O'Neil and his father visit the Ivers' mansion to take credit for helping the police find Martha with the unspoken expectation of receiving a major reward, but only receive a poultry payment of ice cream and cake for Walter. Later that evening there is a power outage and Sam sneaks into the Ivers Mansion in hopes of taking Martha away on the next train out of town. Martha's aunt goes upstairs to see what is going on, while Sam narrowly escapes as a fight ensues between Martha and her aunt. With Walter watching, Martha strikes her aunt with her aunt's walking cane and she topples down a long staircase and immediately dies. With Walter O'Neil's interests in mind, Walter's father ignores any hint of foulplay by Martha and wishfully believes Martha's story that her aunt was murdered by an unknown intruder and reports this crime to the police. Meanwhile Sam hops a circus train and leaves Iverstown.

Fast forward to 1946 and we find an alchoholic Walter (played by Kirk Douglas) and Martha (Barbara Stanwyck) are now married to each other. Walter is the local District Attorney and Martha is the sole heiress to the Ivers' industrial empire. Sam Masterson (Van Heflin) passes through Iverstown for the first time since 1928, but has a minor car accident and decides to stay in town overnight to get his car fixed.
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