Friday, 1 October 2010

"Sudden death sells papers."

In the 1950ies Fritz Lang made three movies, which would become known as his newspaper noir trio. The first one is based on a story by Vera Caspary: THE BLUE GARDENIA.

In a nutshell:

On her birthday Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter) receives a letter from her boyfriend, who is positioned in Korea: he has met another woman and is in love with her.
When playboy Harry Prebbles (Raymond Burr) calls to invite Norah's roommate Chrytal (Ann Sothern) Norah accepts in lieu of Chrystal and meets him in the Blue Gardenia Club. Harry manages that she gets drunk and when she goes with him into his appartment he tries to rape her. She defends herself with a poker.
On the next morning at home she can't remember anything - meanwhile Harry Prebble is found death - next to him Norah's shoes, her handkerchief and the blue gardenia she was gifted from him. For headlines journalist Casey Mayo (Richard Conte) tries to find the "Blue Gardenia Murderess" - and falls for Norah.

Watch out for:

  • Nat King Cole's cameo as a barsinger - singing the title song BLUE GARDENIA - and George Reeves as Police Cap. Sam Haynes.


  • Norah's roommate Sally (Jeff Donnell - her real name was Jean Marie Donnell) likes to read Mickey Mallet-thrillers - this is a parody of Mickey Spillane novels, which are as horrible as the Mickey Mallet novels which are described in this film.
  • On a magazine cover (COLLIER'S WEEKLY) at the magazine booth you can spot Rosemary Clooney.
  • George Reeves starred as Superman in the tv series ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN (1952 -1958) and he has also a part in GONE WITH THE WIND (1939, -> Stuart Tarleton).
  • Neslon Riddle did the arrangements for the song BLUE GARDENIA.
  • The German title is GARDENIA - EINE FRAU WILL VERGESSEN (lit. = "Gardenia - A Woman Wants To Forget"), which is quite funny because the heroine of this film tries to remember..
  • The French title is LA FEMME AU GARDÉNIA (lit. = The Woman With Gardenia).
  • The two other newspaper noirs by Fritz Lang are WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS (1956) and BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT (also 1956).
  • PRELUDE and LIEBESTOD from TRISTAN & ISOLDE by Richard Wagner.

Celebrate the celluloid:
  • You could wear a blue gardenia,
  • drink Polynesian Pearl Divers (rum, pineapple juice and ice - I figured it out myself so it might be not accurate - but I do know that Pearl Divers are usually mixed with rum - and pineapple juice and ice are mentioned by Raymond Burr as Harry Prebble..) or
  • coffee - and also you can
  • eat a hamburger.
My favourite feature:

The Blue Gardenia Club - it so glamourous: Imagine going out and Nat King Cole sings in the backround..

My favourite characters:

I like Norah's roommates Chrystal and Sally - but maybe Chrystal the most for she has the wittiest lines..

Scene to see:

The Blue Gardenia club scenes - esp. Nat King Cole singing.

Window shopping:

Norah's black taffeta dress, Chrystal's pyjamas and the big basket-chairs from the Blue Gardenia Club.

Quotes corner:

"Come on, Chrystal, I made another mistake."

There are some analogies to Vera Caspary's LAURA: The housekeeper is destroys some of the evidences and that working girl theme, which I do love most in Vera Caspary's stories. I also like the flat the three women are living in - but I would go berserk, if I hadn't a room of my own.
Anne Baxter is one of my favourite actresses and I do like Ann Sothern, too - so that's why I wanted to see this film. And I really enjoyed it!
There are some people who say that the scene in which Harry tries to rape Norah is not convincing for Raymond Burr was homosexual - but I don't agree with this opinion. I do not think that the sexual orientation (resp. political or wathever else orientation) matters. It is no argument for not being convinced by a performance. If anyone thinks that a homosexual actor is not convincing in this kind of perfomance because of his orientation, I guess a real rapist would be more convincing.?
Then I know people who say that this scene is much too tame - I think, you have to get the meaning of a scene. If you want to see real violation you maybe should watch another kind of movie or a really creepy documentation. - It is Hollywood for God's sake! What also means: You got to do a little bit of the thinking by yourself. ;")
Sorry, that was just something that I had to say. Speaking of convincing: When Richard Conte tips the ashtray over - it makes me laugh because he does it sooo low-key..
And now my pretty civilised résumé:
BLUE GARDENIA is a great picture and you should watch it, even if you are allergic to gardenias.

Goodbye - I'll go and watch another movie - or this one again?

"Honey, if a girl kills every man who gets fresh with her - how much male population you'd think would be left?"


  1. Welcome to Jann of! I am happy to meet you here! :")

  2. I love anything with Raymond Burr in it. I have so much Burr memorabilia it's not even funny.

    I love your blog so so much. It's fantastic <3

    Ps. that picture of Vincent over there --->
    it made my heart throb;) Dishy, handsome man. xxxxxx

  4. Hello, Bob,

    I like Raymond Burr too - though I only know few films with him (of course I do know the TV series Perry Mason and Ironside..)

    Hello Michelle!!
    I am glad your found your way to my little blog - and thank you for your lovely comment - I had a tough time choosing just ONE picture of Vincent Price - he is just too gorgeous! (I think I'll add another one soon.)

  5. Fascinating. You would love my jukebox, modern copy of a 1015 Wurlitzer.

  6. Hello Ken!

    I am sure: I would love it!! :") Thank you for stopping by!

  7. Superman is in Gone with the Wind!? I must rewatch it now, not like I ever needed an excuse...

    I love this post and your comments on Raymond Burr's sexuality. I don't recall Rock Hudson or Carey Grant getting any criticism for their performances so why is Raymond Burr different? (Although I realize they were in a completely different genre of film).

  8. Hi, Whitney! You'll find Superman pretty soon in the first scenes - but I am sure you will do a really serious investigation and watcht the whole film. That's what I would do. :")


I really appreciate your comments - I'll read them all and if I can think of an answer I'll post it. :")