Monday, December 23, 2013

The Blue Gardenia 1953

Fritz Lang has said that he made this murder mystery in 20 days and it looks it but it does entertain and I’ll forgive him for this one because he also made “The Big Heat” the same year.  The dense and somewhat unbelievable plot takes place in Los Angles and focuses on three women who work at the same telephone company and also share an apartment that is modest and realistic. The roommates are played by the sassy and sarcastic Ann Sothern who does the whole film with a cigarette dangling from her mouth, Jeff Donnell who seems to be mentally challenged and who is a murder mystery fan and reads cheap pulp fiction throughout the film by her favorite writer Mickey Mallet which is an obvious  spoof on Mickey Spillane who was at his peak of popularity in the early 50’s and the most troubled of the group Anne Baxter. Baxter is lonely and early in the film is about to spend her birthday alone with a photograph of her boyfriend who is fighting in Korea. As Sothern gets ready for a date with her ex-husband and Donnell is about to rush off to the neighborhood bookstore to pick up the latest book by Mallet, Anne is content to cook a nice dinner for herself and her photograph. Dressed in a lovely black taffeta dress (this figures prominently in the plot), and toasting her boyfriend’s photo, Anne opens the most recent letter from him and reads that she’s been dumped by him for a nurse he’s fallen in love with while recuperating from wounds suffered in the war. Anne sheds a few tears into her pot roast dinner. Suddenly the phone rings and its Raymond Burr on the other end, who thinks Anne is the other Ann who he tried to pick up earlier in the day at the phone company. Burr is a womanizer and a bad artist and thinking Anne is the other Ann invites her to have some drinks and Chinese food at a restaurant called The Blue Gardenia, which is a Polynesian joint. Anne is also blue so she agrees to meet Burr, it is after all her birthday and she’s just been royally dumped. At the restaurant Nat “King” Cole is performing the title song, and Raymond is confused because he thought he was getting Ann Sothern instead he has Anne Baxter which is not such a bad deal and he knows it. After ordering and pouring on the sweaty charm Ray buys Anne a Blue Gardenia from the blind old lady who sells them in the joint and starts pouring an obscene sounding drink called Polynesian Pearl Divers down Anne’s pretty throat.  Anne has soon gulped down 4 or 5 of these sweet and potent drinks and is drunk and wobbly but agrees to go to Burr’s apartment where he of course tries to make her, which Anne wants no part of.  Oh trouble trouble trouble. Something happens and Anne blacks out and upon waking she sees that Burr has been killed with a poker from the fireplace.  She thinks she did it and naturally she panics and runs out of the apartment without her shoes, leaving not only her glass slippers behind but also one of her hankies and the Blue Gardenia. There you have it that’s the plot. Also involved is Richard Conte (looking pained and bored) as a newspaper reporter who wants to find the killer who he calls the Blue Gardenia Girl in his tabloid newspaper and George Reeves as a detective also on hunt for the killer. The ending is rash and rushed with a “surprise” that you could see a mile away, but as I said for 90 minutes it entertains and the cast is 50’s fun.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Site Meter