“Sudden death sells papers, son.”
A woman (Anne Baxter) despondent after being dumped by her long-distance soldier-boyfriend accepts the offer of a womanizing painter (Raymond Burr) to go on a date, not realizing he will ply her with drinks and try to rape her. When Burr is found dead in his apartment the next morning with a blue gardenia lying on the floor, an ambitious reporter (Richard Conte) tries to crack the case by promising to help out the “Blue Gardenia” killer if she calls him.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Amateur Sleuths
- Ann Sothern Films
- Anne Baxter Films
- Fritz Lang Films
- Media Spactacle
- Raymond Burr Films
- Richard Conte Films
Response to Peary’s Review:
Peary argues that this “mediocre Fritz Lang film takes too long to get started, forcing the final, more interesting scenes to be rushed.” He notes that “typically, Lang has Baxter [the protagonist] ignore her moral senses for a slight indiscretion, fall into fate’s trap, become involved in a crime that she might be convicted of whether innocent or guilty, and become increasingly paranoid that she is alone and everyone is pointing accusing fingers” — though he adds that “significantly, this is the only time Lang lets this happen to a woman.” Indeed, in Ben Sachs’ review of the film for the Chicago Reader, he notes this is “the only Fritz Lang film that could be categorized as a women’s picture”, given that “the central characters are three single women” — Baxter lives with two blonde roommates, divorced Crystal (Ann Sothern) and crime-fiction-obsessed Sally (Jeff Donnell) — “navigating hazards of working life and the dating scene as they try to get by in Los Angeles.” The scenes between the three supportive roommates are among the most memorable in the film, adding a humorous and humane touch to the proceedings. Burr, meanwhile, is effectively menacing, voicing his lines with a thorough degree of veiled creepiness: “Women always surprise me when they take off their… shoes.” While I agree that this Lang flick is nowhere near his best, even one of his “mediocre” outings is worth a one-time look by his fans.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Nicholas Musuraca’s atmospheric cinematogrophy
- Raymond Burr as Harry Prebble
- Ann Sothern and Jeff Donnell as Norah’s roommates
No, though it’s definitely worth a one-time look.