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The Best of Film Noir, Vol. 2: Pitfall/The Stranger/The Strange Love of Martha Ivers [3 Discs] [DVD]

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Special Features

  • Before & after restoration demo
  • Original movie art postcard
  • Movie trailers
  • Audio commentary


The Stranger
The Stranger is often considered Orson Welles' most "traditional" Hollywood-style directorial effort. Welles plays a college professor named Charles Rankin, who lives in a pastoral Connecticut town with his lovely wife Mary (Loretta Young). One afternoon, an extremely nervous German gentleman named Meineke (Konstantin Shayne) arrives in town. Professor Rankin seems disturbed--but not unduly so--by Meineke's presence. He invites the stranger for a walk in the woods, and as they journey farther and farther away from the center of town, we learn that kindly professor Rankin is actually notorious Nazi war criminal Franz Kindler. Conscience-stricken by his own genocidal wartime activities, Meineke has come to town to beg his ex-superior Kindler to give himself up. The professor responds by brutally murdering his old associate. If Kindler believes himself safe--and he has every reason to do so, since no one in town, especially Mary, has any inkling of his previous life--he will change his mind in a hurry when mild-mannered war crimes commissioner Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) pays a visit, posing as an antiques dealer. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The darker side of the American dream is explored in the fascinating film noir Pitfall. Dick Powell stars as John Forbes, a successful insurance man with a trophy wife named Sue (Jane Wyatt) and a model child named Tommy (Jimmy Hunt). Despite all that he's achieved in life, Forbes feels somehow unfulfilled. During an attempt to recollect illegally purchased goods by a convicted bank robber, Forbes falls for his glamorous client Mona Stevens (Lizabeth Scott). When she "comes on" to him, it sparks an affair between them. Forbes suffers the pangs of guilt, a fact immediately capitalized upon by the seedy private eye MacDonald (Raymond Burr), who is upset because Mona has rejected him. If adultery has been committed, can murder be far behind? Many individual scenes in Pitfall are standouts, notably a brief moment wherein Forbes' son Tommy suffers a horrible nightmare -- in almost exactly the same manner that child actor Jimmy Hunt would endure a similar bad dream in 1953's Invaders from Mars. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

The Strange Love of Martha Ivers
In The Strange Love of Martha Ivers, relationships formed in childhood lead to murder and obsessive love. The wealthy Martha Ivers (Barbara Stanwyck) is the prime mover of the small Pennsylvania town of Iverston. Martha lives in a huge mansion with her DA husband, Walter O'Neil (Kirk Douglas), an alcoholic weakling. No one knows just why Martha and Walter tolerate one another....but Sam Masterson (Van Heflin), an Iverstown boy who returns to town, may just have a clue. At least that's what Martha thinks when Sam asks Walter to intervene in the case of Toni Marachek (Lizabeth Scott), who has been unjustly imprisoned. It seems that, as a young boy, Sam was in the vicinity when Martha's rich aunt (Judith Anderson) met with her untimely demise. What does Sam know? And what dark, horrible secret binds Martha and Walter together? Directed by Lewis Milestone, and based on John Patrick's Oscar-nominated original story, Love Lies Bleeding, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers creates in Martha a unique and interesting, driven, obsessed, and spoiled character, but one not without sympathy. Barbara Stanwyck is outstanding as Martha, with her predatory smile and sharp, manicured nails. Kirk Douglas is surprisingly convincing as a lost, sad, weak man, who loves his wife, but is unable to gain her respect. The Strange Love of Martha Ivers eventually lapsed into public domain and became a ubiquitous presence on cable television. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Orson Welles
    Orson Welles - Franz Kindler/Prof. Charles Rankin
  • Edward G. Robinson
    Edward G. Robinson - Wilson
  • Loretta Young
    Loretta Young - Mary Longstreet
  • Philip Merivale
    Philip Merivale - Judge Longstreet
  • Image coming soon
    Byron Keith - Dr. Jeff Lawrence
Product images, including color, may differ from actual product appearance.