Film Noir 2023
Screening Dates
  • August 24, 2023 8:40
  • August 27, 2023 6:30
  • September 2, 2023 6:30
  • September 4, 2023 8:40

A gripping film noir, all the more effective for being staged by Milestone as a steamy romantic melodrama.”

Tom Milne, Time Out

Iverstown, Pennsylvania, a coal company town filled with gothic spectres of high American tragedy, is ruled by two masters. At the top, heiress Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck) oversees its monopolistic expansion, and under her heel, husband Walter (Kirk Douglas, in his first onscreen role) puppeteers an army of police officers and assorted mercenaries from his DA office. Into this closed system crashes army vet Sam Masterson (a breezily amoral Van Heflin) and ex-con Toni Marachek (Lizabeth Scott). A horrific murder from the past links Martha, Walter, and Sam, who grew up together; Toni is the exception: a wounded romantic who means what she says. Drunk on plot and power-lust, this A‑list production comes by its noir credibility via director Lewis Milestone’s unfazed treatment of bottomless, eroticized self-destruction. The film’s rotten heart manifests in blazing torchlight, unlit cigarettes, and Edith Head’s unforgettable costume design. Judith Anderson (Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca) also makes an appearance; she called it the meanest part I’ve ever done.”

Barbara Stanwyck and Kirk Douglas are playing to the hilt two of the meanest and most seriously interesting characters that addicts of homicidal melodrama are likely to meet with on the screen for a long time to come.”

Thomas M. Pryor, The New York Times