The Blue Gardenia (1953)

Not Rated   |    |  Crime, Drama, Film-Noir


The Blue Gardenia (1953) Poster

A telephone operator ends up drunk and at the mercy of a cad in his apartment. The next morning she wakes up with a hangover and the terrible fear she may be a murderess.

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7/10
4,115

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  • Richard Conte and Ann Sothern in The Blue Gardenia (1953)
  • Anne Baxter and Raymond Burr in The Blue Gardenia (1953)
  • Anne Baxter and Richard Conte in The Blue Gardenia (1953)
  • The Blue Gardenia (1953)
  • Anne Baxter and Raymond Burr in The Blue Gardenia (1953)
  • Richard Conte and Ann Sothern in The Blue Gardenia (1953)

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2 June 2010 | secondtake
7
| A strong, crime tinged, imperfect melodrama
Blue Gardenia (1953)

The likable Richard Conte makes a great news reporter here, and Anne Baxter as the woman in trouble is pitch perfect. In fact, Baxter's two sidekicks are also right on, Jeff Donnell (a woman, really sharp) and Ann Southern. It's a good story, a little forced, but with lots of atmosphere at the right times (including a scene with the real Nat King Cole playing and singing).

What holds the movie back is a mixture of basic story line, which lacks velocity and credibility equally, and direction, which doesn't heighten what is really strong here. That is, a great cast, and some great situations (including murder). Fritz Lang, the director, is accountable, of course, for some judgements that let things loosen up too much, and for the cute but abrupt ending. There are some characters that got developed in the beginning that don't get a chance to blossom. If we just focus on the two leads (no counting Raymond Burr, who has a brief and different kind of presence), there is a chemistry not quite clicking. Nice, regular guy Conte and slightly sophisticated Baxter don't quite match up, even though both are convincing individually.

There is some talent behind the scenes here worth mention, especially cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, who has done a whole slew of great small movies with astonishing visuals. Lang uses him well, though with a studied restraint that almost implies this was a throwaway effort. It comes between two of his greatest American movies, however: Clash by Night and The Big Heat. It's worth a look, a good movie not quite a noir by usual measures, but filled with intrigue and a little touch of welcome romance.

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