Fritz Lang's scathing critique of fifties America's hunger for bloodshed and scandal. Classic Hollywood film noir with a feminine twist, "The Blue Gardenia" stars Anne Baxter (All About Eve) as Norah Larkin, a working girl... more » who wakes up a murderess after passing out in the apartment of brutish playboy Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr). Branded "The Blue Gardenia" by a sensational columnist (Richard Conte), Norah dodges dragnets, informants and the cruel hand of fate as she struggles to conceal her involvement with Prebble and to remember the details of her ill fated night. As her hopes for justice fade, she decides to gamble her future on the journalist who transformed her into such a notorious public figure. Enhancing the melancholy mood of the film is the haunting theme song arranged by Nelson Riddle and performed to perfection by Nat "King" Cole.« less
Antoinette Klein | Hoover, Alabama USA | 10/07/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The acting by both Anne Baxter and Raymond Burr is exceptional and elevates this to one of my favorite film noirs. Baxter is the young innocent Norah Larkin who is crushed when she receives a 'Dear Jane' letter from her boyfriend in Korea. Devastated and alone, she is easy prey for the slimey Harry Prebble portrayed by Raymond Burr in his pre-Perry Mason period. After a drunken night, Norah can't remember anything except that she was fighting off advances from Prebble. The newspapers are filled with the story of his murder and the mysterious blonde who left a blue gardenia behind. Viewers watch Norah slip deeper and deeper into paraonia as she frantically tries to conceal her involvement yet remember the details of her ill-fated night. Adding to the outstanding cast are Ann Sothern and Jeff Donnell as her roommates and Richard Conte as the newspaper reporter who makes an open appeal for the Blue Gardenia killer to come forward and trust him. As the police web (led by TV's Superman George Reeves) tightens around her, Norah turns to the reporter to help her, but....suffice it to say the happy-ever-after ending is a little too quick and easy. However, this is definitely worth watching and as an added plus you will be treated to the melodic voice of Nat "King" Cole singing the title song throughout the movie."
Too Saccharine for a Murder Mystery. Too Bland All Around.
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 09/08/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
""The Blue Gardenia" is among director Fritz Lang's lesser films. It is often categorized as noir, but is only vaguely so. Adapted from the short story "Gardenia" by Very Caspary, it's more mystery/romance, like Caspary's "Laura", which made a far superior film. The cinematography by Nicholas Musuraca is in high-key style that was coming back into fashion in the 1950s, a major departure from the low-key lighting of the 1940s that became iconic of film noir. "The Blue Gardenia" looks an awful lot like 1950s television, which is alluded to in one bit of dialogue. It's placement during the Korean War and the plethora of post-war gender stereotypes also place this film firmly in the 1950s thematically. Ironically, Fritz Lang made "The Big Heat" the same year, which is solid film noir and perhaps his only truly great American film.
Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter) is a pretty, young switchboard operator with a boyfriend to whom she is devoted stationed in Korea. She cheerfully spends her evenings at home and never dates other men, wishing to remain faithful to her man overseas. But on her birthday, she learns that her boyfriend has fallen in love with another woman. Distraught, Norah impulsively accepts a dinner invitation from artist and infamous lothario Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr). She drinks too much and gets herself right snookered, a situation which Harry tries to take advantage of. Prebble is found dead in his apartment the next day, and Norah can't remember what happened. Confused and afraid, she responds to newspaperman Casey Mayo (Richard Conte) who, looking for an angle, promised his newspaper would provide the murderer with legal assistance in exchange for an exclusive story.
I found the most striking aspect "The Blue Gardenia" to be how much it looks and feels like 1950s television. The concept of characters and gender relations had changed radically from the 1940s by the time this film was released in 1953. The men, exemplified in Harry Prebble and Casey Mayo, are conspicuously charming, egotistical, chauvinistic, predatory, and inexplicably irresistible to the ladies. The women are silly, chatty, and in need of rescuing. No one is interesting, and everyone is shallow. Add to that the cheesy "Blue Gardenia" restaurant , and the film is a little ridiculous. Nat King Cole performs "The Blue Gardenia"'s thoroughly mediocre theme song in the restaurant scene.
The DVD (Image Entertainment 2005): This print has occasional specks and spots, but most of it is clean. There are no bonus features or subtitles."
The Blue Gardenia
Antoinette Klein | 04/25/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"My mother and I ordered this video to see if it beared any resemblance to "The Blue Dahlia" with Alan Ladd. It turned out to be nothing like it, but we love it just tje same. I highly reccomend it to anyone who enjoys classic film noir."
Steven Hellerstedt | 03/18/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
BLUE GARDENIA (1953) is Fritz Lang's first film after appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee after somebody, somehow convinced someone that he was not now and never had been a communist. BLUE GARDENIA is a particularly venomous indictment of mid-20th century America. Or something like that. Peter Bogdanovich, director, says so on the dvd jacket back cover. I suppose if you're studying up for the essay question the phrase `scathing attack' is another one to keep in mind. Lang, if biographers can be trusted, held no great affection for a movie he had little hand in creating and one he shot in about three weeks time. Even the title indicates more commercial exploitation than artistic inspiration was at work here. The film's producer wanted to capitalize on the notorious murder in 1947of a prostitute who the press referred to as the `Black Dahlia' and built a story around a name. Heck, I thought it was an interesting, well-lit story of crime and punishment, better than most but not one that took ones breath away or left a lot of blood on the floor. Sometimes, even when made by the best of directors, films are just movies. In any event, BLUE GARDENIA is about a good girl Norah Larkin (Ann Baxter) who gets a little too drunk one broken-hearted evening, accepts an invite from brutish playboy Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr.) They go to the Blue Gardenia nightclub where Nat King Cole sings the show (and momentum) stopping title song. Prebble plies pretty Norah with a few dozen Polynesian Pearl Divers and soon has her checking out his sketches at his apartment. By now Norah is deep in her cups and Burr makes his move. The movies leaves it a little unclear at this point but Norah soon flees the apartment, leaving her shoes, a lace handkerchief and an inanimate rogue in the strange apartment. Norah takes it on the lam and cynical columnist Casey "Sudden death sells papers, son" Mayo (Richard Conte) writes an open letter to the Blue Gardenia, his attention-getting name for the hiding murderess. I think it's the Casey Mayo character who inspired the `scathing venom' comments. Norah can't, won't, go to the police and Mayo plays sympathetic solely to get an exclusive interview with the suspect. Although I believe Lang didn't have as much involvement with this movie as he did with most of his masterpieces, there are enjoyable Langian touches sprinkled throughout. Norah is one of his ambiguously evil characters. The movie leads us to believe she's committed a deed most foul, but it frames it as an act of self-defense rather that violence. In fact, Norah is one of the most innocent of characters you can imagine in a crime thriller. Unfortunately for the movie a new character is preposterously introduced in the last ten minutes or so that quiets whatever questions we had about Norah's fawn-like innocence. It's a cop-out that undermines the whole movie. BLUE GARDENIA may not be a classic crime thriller, but I liked it quite a bit. If you're a film noir fan and come in with high expectations you might be disappointed.
Not a Black Dahlia Knock Off
Joseph Les Phillips | Davie, Florida | 07/20/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This film stands by itself as a bonified flim noir classic. Contrary to some opinions that it was made to capitalize on the notorious Black Dahlia murder case, which had just occurred, it is quite the opposite. The Blue Dahlia had already been in release when the murder of Elizabeth Short occurred, and when it was discovered she had a tattoo of a black dahlia on her body, an enterprising L.A. newspaper reporter nicknamed her the Black Dahlia to spice up the interest in the case to sell newspapers. Strangely, after all these years, the murder of Elizabeth Short has still not been solved and the film will always be an eerie reminder of that tragic fact. A pretty good television film titled, Who Killed The Black Dahlia, starring Lucie Arnaz was made around 1974 but I have never seen it on television, video or DVD since."