Black Widow (1954)
An early full color Cinemascope drama, loaded with starts, and written by a high powered but somewhat forgotten stage and screen writer of the 40s and 50s, Nunnally Johnson. And this is one of a handful of films he directed, too. It's really quite a fully blossomed drama, and it grows with complexity as it goes. And it's packed with stars. The leading man has always impressed me even though he's not the handsome or powerful sort that usually commands the first credits, Van Heflin. he's really amazing, subtle and perfectly sophisticated and well meaning and (eventually) tortured.
His wife is played with usual cool cheerfulness by Gene Tierney, and their neighbor and friend is a haughty and ridiculous (perfectly so) Ginger Rogers. Rogers takes her role to the hilt, both in arrogance and frivolity and later in emotional breakdown.
What ensues is not just highbrow Broadway theater culture, but eventually a criminal (or psychologically suspenseful) tidal wave sweeps over the relatively lightweight beginnings, and the effect is kind of remarkable in its own way. I mean, it's so completely theatrical and melodramatic, and yet it really works as an interpersonal and heartfelt (and probing) drama, too. The writing is smart, nuanced, and it plays the line of being exactly what it is--meaning that it's about the very world that Johnson lives in.
The cop in this case is George Raft, always a little stiff and stiff again here, but he does his job. The seductress who is the center of all these talents is Peggy Ann Garner. Who is she? Well, after several years of being a successful child actress, and except for a small role in an obscure 1951 Fred Zinnemann film as an adult, Garner was a television actress (including some t.v. movies) bouncing from one series to another. Then, at the end of her career, she had small roles in three more features. And in many ways, she's the weak link here--she's supposed to be sleeping her way to success in the theater world, and yet there's something not quite right about her in this role. I suppose I underestimate middle aged rich men.
The plot this girl weaves for those around her is elaborate and devilish. And when it goes wrong for her, it really goes wrong for our main man Heflin. At the point the film is very much like Hitchcock film, with the apparently innocent man accused of a crime. Unlike Hitchcock, Johnson uses flashbacks at key points near the end., which do their job but also have a way of deflating the suspense.
See for yourself!
Black Widow (1954) 1080p YIFY Movie
Black Widow (1954) 1080p
Black Widow is a movie starring Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin, and Gene Tierney. A young writer insinuates herself into the life of a Broadway producer.
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The Synopsis for Black Widow (1954) 1080p
A married Broadway producer is taken with an innocent young woman who wants to be a writer and make it on Broadway. He decides to take her under his wing, but it's not long before the young lady is found dead in his apartment. At first thought to be a suicide, it is later discovered that she has been murdered, and suspicion immediately falls on the producer. He begins his own investigation in order to clear his name, and one of the first things he finds out is that the young woman wasn't quite as naive and innocent as she appeared to be.
The Director and Players for Black Widow (1954) 1080p
The Reviews for Black Widow (1954) 1080p
Tightly constructed, beautifully filmed, straight up high society suspenseReviewed bysecondtakeVote: 7/10
Black Widow (1954)
Now on DVD, 1954's BLACK WIDOW is a handsome, intriguing and enjoyable whodunit. Filmed in the glory days of CinemaScope and stereo sound, this is what Fox did at its best. Their scope films from THE ROBE on should all be released on DVD. BLACK WIDOW stars Ginger Rogers, Van Heflin and Gene Tierney. Peggy Ann Garner is the "new" girl in town with aspirations to become a writer. As luck would have it her Uncle happens to be an actor in a show produced by the Van Heflin character and then things start to get sticky. A small drawback is the use of so many interiors with fake backgrounds and some static blocking of scenes, something like a stage play. Other than that the picture rocks with twists and turns with some good acting by some old pros. Ginger Rogers (probably not unlike her real self) is wonderful as an aging diva. Van Heflin is properly perplexed in an undemanding role. Gene Tierney still looks good, but doesn't have much to do. Peggy Ann does very well as the center of attention. Virginia Leith, a Fox contract player, is awesome in her few scenes. She should have made more films. A nice bit is turned in by an unbilled Mabel Albertson, and a very nice performance by a Hildy Simms helps the plot along. People writing about this should NOT do any spoiler alerts as I was surprised as to who did Peggy Ann Garner in. A wonderful transfer and two short but interesting specials on Gene and Ginger. A very insightful commentary makes this a disc to have. Now Fox has to release some other titles of the same era such as NO DOWN PAYMENT; WOMEN'S WORLD; IN LOVE AND WAR; and UNTAMED.
Broadway producer Peter Denver's wife is out of town tending to her ailing mother. This means he has to attend a cocktail party all alone. The party is being thrown by Lottie Marin, the star actress of his show. Lottie is a rather shrill, rude, condescending woman who keeps her thoroughly whipped husband Brian on a very short leash. Peter is understandably not too fond of Lottie and wants to leave the party as soon as he can. His salvation comes in the form of Nancy Ordway, a mysterious young woman with whom he leaves the party to go out for dinner. It's all rather innocent, just dinner, the big shot theater producer taking pity on the poor Southern girl who's having trouble finding her way in the big city. But is Nancy really as innocent as she seems? A series of flashbacks reveals she's quite a schemer and very much a social climber. She's an aspiring writer who convinces Peter to let her use his apartment to work during the day. But still there is nothing more than friendship between Peter and Nancy. At least that's what Peter wants everyone to believe. Eventually Peter's wife returns to town. Soon after her arrival someone turns up dead and we've got a murder mystery on our hands.
The police have one suspect, Peter Denver. The rest of the film involves Peter trying to prove his innocence. It's a decent murder mystery with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing and hold your interest. Even when you're certain you've got it all figured out the film has more surprises in store, it is a pretty smart story. Van Heflin does a fine job portraying the accused Peter. Ginger Rogers has a showier part as the haughty Lottie. Rogers is perhaps a bit too shrill and over-the-top but her performance does work as far as making Lottie into the unlikeable shrew she is meant to be. Peggy Ann Garner is very good as the mysterious Nancy. For the film to work we had to be truly intrigued by the character and Garner makes that happen. Reginald Gardiner plays Lottie's ever so meek husband, it is a solid portrayal of a man so trapped under his famous wife's thumb that he is invisible to the world. George Raft is somewhat disappointing, giving a rather stiff performance as the detective investigating the killing. Gene Tierney, playing Peter's wife, is woefully underused. The film definitely could have done more with her. The story isn't perfect. It tosses some obvious red herrings your way and does drag somewhat now and again. Black Widow spins a tangled web which, when finally unraveled, ultimately proves clever enough to more or less satisfy. It is a movie which has its failings but there is more good than bad. No all-time classic to be sure but a decent murder mystery to entertain you.