Blue Gardenia

Blue Gardenia

Director: Fritz Lang

Cast: Anne Baxter, Richard Conte, Ann Sothern

     
 

For many years, The Blue Gardenia was virtually a lost Fritz Lang film. Financed independently, the movie wasn't widely seen at the time of its release, despite being distributed by Warner Bros., and as it subsequently bounced between distributors, the picture managed to slip through the cracks of most television schedules, forgotten amid higher profile LangSee more details below

Overview

For many years, The Blue Gardenia was virtually a lost Fritz Lang film. Financed independently, the movie wasn't widely seen at the time of its release, despite being distributed by Warner Bros., and as it subsequently bounced between distributors, the picture managed to slip through the cracks of most television schedules, forgotten amid higher profile Lang movies such as While the City Sleeps. The similarity of its title to that of The Blue Dahlia, made by Paramount seven years earlier, didn't help matters much -- even mystery buffs muddled the Lang movie in their memories. They never knew what they were missing until now. The Blue Gardenia is a sinister thriller with a pretty fair mystery at its heart, framed by a nasty vision of American popular culture and life during the Korean War. There are a lot of sacred cows that get savaged in the course of telling the story, including the public's growing taste for violent diversions (even Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, then a new pop culture phenomenon, is targeted). The basics of the plot are as follows: Working girl Anne Baxter gets a "Dear Jane" letter from Korea; in her disillusionment and depression, she goes out to dinner with artist Raymond Burr, a notorious womanizer who ends up dead, while Baxter ends up hunted by the police and crime reporter Richard Conte. Lang's sense of irony and humor -- all of it dark-hued -- are unerring in this odd little movie, which also includes a song performed on screen by Nat "King" Cole. The picture transfer is gorgeous and the sound is clean, which is a big help in presenting a movie in which the music is essential to the plot, but one wishes that there were some extras, like a trailer and perhaps an analysis of the film; then again, not a lot of time was spent on the packaging and presentation of this disc, which is broken down into only a dozen chapters in a not-too-impressive onscreen menu.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Amy Robinson
Less morally rigorous and fatalistic than Fritz Lang's better-known efforts, Blue Gardenia is essentially a lighter brand of film noir -- using the genre's typically darkened city streets and foreboding sense of dread for a few late-night thrills. After receiving a "Dear John" letter from her unfaithful GI boyfriend, heartbroken good girl Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter) indulges in an evening of drunkenness with sleazy painter Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr). She soon finds herself in the middle of a terrible mystery when Prebble turns up dead. The interplay between Norah and her gal-pal roommates (played by Ann Sothern and Jeff Donnell) adds enormously to the film's charm, and her eventual isolation from them -- as she desperately struggles to remember what happened -- contributes greatly to the tension. Lang's usual visual mastery is in evidence here; Blue Gardenia never looks anything less than stunning. And crooner Nat King Cole even puts in an appearance, stopping by long enough to play the film's lovely theme song.
All Movie Guide
The Blue Gardenia contains one of the purest examples of Fritz Lang's ability to transform commonplace pieces of household technology (such as clocks and telephones) into engines of destiny. Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter), at a moment of weakness (she's just read a letter from her boyfriend breaking off their relationship), answers a phone call meant for someone else and finds herself on a blind date with Raymond Burr's sleazy Harry Prebble, who ends up dead at the end of the night. In interviews, Lang often dismissed this film as a job-for-hire, but its recurring image of the telephone as a sinister conduit of possibly fatal information (and misinformation) remains intriguing. Decked out in a wonderfully tacky 1950s milieu featuring a tiki bar with Nat "King" Cole on the bandstand, The Blue Gardenia subtly questions that decade's mass-produced cultural blandness by exposing the dark side that's never very far below the surface, at least in Lang's films.

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Product Details

Release Date:
04/11/2000
UPC:
0014381904222
Original Release:
1953
Rating:
NR
Source:
Image Entertainment
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital, monaural]
Time:
1:28:00
Sales rank:
20,331

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Anne Baxter Norah Larkin
Richard Conte Casey Mayo
Ann Sothern Crystal Carpenter
Raymond Burr Harry Prebble
Jeff Donnell Sally Ellis
Nat "King" Cole Himself
Richard Erdman Al
George Reeves Police Capt. Haynes
Ruth Storey Rose Miller
Ray Walker Homer
Alex Gottlieb Man
Celia Lovsky Blind Woman
Frank Ferguson Drunkard
Robert Shayne Doctor

Technical Credits
Fritz Lang Director
James Barker Makeup
Willis Cook Special Effects
Maria P. Donovan Costumes/Costume Designer
Emmett Emerson Asst. Director
Alex Gottlieb Producer
Daniel Hall Art Director
Gene Hibbs Makeup
Charles Hoffman Screenwriter
Raoul Kraushaar Score Composer
Lester Lee Songwriter
Edward Mann Editor
Nick Musuraca Cinematographer
Bob Russell Songwriter
Ben Winkler Sound/Sound Designer

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Scene Index

Side #1
0. Chapter Selection
1. Main Title; Granite 1466 [4:48]
2. Happy Birthday [10:11]
3. Diving for Pearls [4:23]
4. Blue Gardenia [2:41]
5. One Too Many [9:23]
6. The Morning After [3:13]
7. On the Case [6:37]
8. A Guilty Conscience [6:27]
9. "Letter to an Unknown Murderess" [11:01]
10. Killer Amnesia [14:37]
11. Foul Play [6:07]
12. A Woman Scorned [8:40]

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