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This review originally appeared in issue 6 of THE CINEMA LASER.


THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS ($35) is another film that has tragically become a causality of America's lost film heritage. THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS was produced by Hal Wallis and released by Paramount; due to neglect the film was allowed to pass into public domain where it has languished. The only prints that have been available for public consumption have been the worn, out of focus, 16mm slop prints that occasionally play television. Now thanks to Lumivision and The Roan Group, Laserdisc collectors can now see THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS in a 35mm presentation, transferred from the best available source material.

THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS is one hell of a great movie, and it is all entertainment value. I just love to watch people with absolutely no redeeming social value rip each other apart for two hours. Barbara Stanwyck, Van Heflin, Lizabeth Scott and Kirk Douglas (his first film) star in this dark tale of corruption, greed, lust, jealousy and murder. Stanwyck is the title character, a wealthy woman who owns the town that bears her family's name. Heflin is her childhood love, whose return to their home town stirs up the jealousy of her district attorney husband (Douglas), and also poses a threat to murderous secret that binds the three of them together. Scott is the recently paroled girl that attaches herself to Heflin. Barbara Stanwyck is, as always, tremendous; she completely overwhelms everyone with wonderfully wicked performance. Van Heflin's other performances never really impressed me one way or another, but in IVERS he is great. Heflin's character is less than savory; he is a gambler and con man, yet Heflin infuses him with just enough humanity to get the audience to root for him. Lizabeth Scott's is both tough and tender, she garners a lot of sympathy with a moving portrayal of a girl looking to pick up the pieces of her life. Kirk Douglas practically steals the movie with a terrific character performance as the drunken, weakling DA driven by his wife's ambitions. Douglas' portrayal is such a radical departure from his later "STAR" performances that this film would seem to be the work of another actor.

Lumivision's presentation of THE STRANGE LOVE OF MARTHA IVERS is quite good. The 35mm film element would appear to be a black and white nitrate print from the film's original release. The print is in very good shape considering its age, although it does exhibit some problems. The image is a bit milky in a couple of places (the beginnings of nitrate decomposition), and there are scratches and blemishes at the reel changes. Aside from these minor problems, the print has good contrast and is rich in detail.

The digital monaural soundtrack is excellent for a "lost" movie, with few problems evident, even at the reel changes. The Sony (DADC) pressing had far fewer speckles than I've seen on a lot of their other recent product.


Laserdisc reviews are Copyright 1996 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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