The Blue Gardenia (1953) Fritz Lang
Switchboard operator Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter, right) patiently awaits for her fiancé, a soldier serving in the Korean War, to come home. She turns down lots of offers from womanizers like Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr, below right) and decides to stay home on her birthday, thinking of her fiancé rather than going out with her roommates Crystal (Ann Sothern, middle) and Sally (Jeff Donnell, left). Only then does she read the letter her man just sent her with some very bad news: he’s met another woman.
Norah changes her mind about Prebble and goes out with him. Later at his apartment (after he’s gotten Norah plastered), Prebble takes a few liberties, the two fight, and a drunken Norah passes out. The next morning she discovers that Prebble’s dead, struck by a fireplace poker. Did she do it? She can’t remember…
Soon the body is discovered and the hunt is on for the killer. Reporter Casey Mayo (Richard Conte) starts sniffing around and putting the pieces together and Norah knows it’s just a matter of time unless she can outsmart him.
The Blue Gardenia is a fun, if somewhat lightweight noir, really more of a suspense film than a noir, but it certainly contains noir elements. For crying out loud, you’ve got Fritz Lang as director and Nicholas Musuraca as cinematographer, so it’s going to have some noir trappings! Yet Charles Hoffman’s script is a bit plodding and formulaic. This also could’ve been one of those “contractual obligation” films that Lang had to make from time to time. On the plus side, we have a nice appearance by Nat “King” Cole singing the title song. This one’s worth a look.
Photos: CeltoSlavica, Movie Posters, cinema.de