You Don’t Know Which Way to Turn, There’s No Place to Hide, Nowhere to run…: The Blue Gardenia (1953)

“By now you must be frightened out of your wits. You don’t know which way to turn, there’s no place to hide, nowhere to run… except to me. So take my advice, Blue Gardenia. Go to the nearest phone booth and invest a dime on the rest of your life.”

So I watched this movie years ago on TCM. I remember loving it and trying to find it again to watch, but every time they played it again they never showed it at a time I could watch it.

Sleeping

The other day I was shelving at the library and found it, I immediately had to check it out and watch it again to see if it is as good as I remember.

The film starts off with a jaunty tune as we follow reporter Casey Mayo (Richard Conte) as he heads to a phone company for a story. There he runs into Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr), artist and player.

Ugh

Yes, Harry is always coming by and using the phone operators as “models”, starting with sketching, then taking them out to a fancy dinner and plying them with drinks, later taking them home.

Harry has his eye on Crystal Carpenter (Ann Sothern), but she’s not buying it. She let him draw her but refuses anything else as she is dating her ex-husband.

Harry turns to Crystal’s roommate, Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter), but she has eyes only for her long-term boyfriend who is a soldier in the Korean War.

That night Crystal, Norah, and their other roommate Sally Ellis, continue their plans for the night. Crystal is going out with her ex-husband, Sally is getting the newest Mickey Mallet novel and going to read it.

For Norah, she has something very special planned. It’s her birthday and she has a letter from her boyfriend. She can’t have him here for the celebration she really wants-so she does the next best thing. She bought a new dress, made a roast, and bought champagne to go with it.

Yay!

After her roommates leave, Nora gets everything ready and then opens the letter.

Dear Norah, You’ve probably learned by now that I’m not so hot as a letter writer. I remember when we were kids in Bakersfield and I worked vacations in San Joaquin Valley. You used to bawl me out for not writing. Well, I guess I’ve gotten worse. But, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about you… a lot. And also thinking about someone else, Norah. A nurse I met in Tokyo when I took a load of Commie shrapnel with me. Angela, that’s her name, supplied the strength and the courage and everything else to pull me through. I didn’t want it to happen but… there’s nothing a guy can do about the real McCoy, and that’s what this is. We’re in love. And when I get out we’re going to be married. That’s the story, Norah. And, I guess there’s nothing else to say except I hope you’ll understand. With affection, always… and best wishes for your future. “Best wishes for your future”. Yours very sincerely. Yours very… truly.

Oh MY GOSH…seriously????? This is the real McCoy? So all those times you said I love you it was a lie!!!???  What a major jerk!!! And ON HER BIRTHDAY!!!!

Norah is upset and doesn’t know what to do. The phone rings and she answers it. It is Harry calling to ask Crystal out. Norah tries to tell him that she’s not Crystal, but he doesn’t listen to her. Norah decides to take Harry up on his offer and goes down to The Blue Gardenia restaurant. There Harry is waiting with Polynesian Pearl Diverswhich has like three different kinds of rum in it and Harry asks for extra rum.

Casey Mayo sees Harry there and they say a quick hello as Casey goes on the prowl for his own dame.

Harry is surprised to see Nora, but in his mind one beautiful girl is just as good as another. Norah enjoys the drinking as she wants to forget the beginning of the night ever happened. Harry supplies lots and lots of drinks and Norah keeps on drinking. She is extremely wasted.

Its just what Harry wants, and he asks her to come to his place for a party with friends.

Yes his friends rum, rohypnol, and rape.

They get to his place and he shows her his pictures. It actually reminds me of Blackmail. While there Norah is starting to nod off, Harry puts on the song The Blue Gardenia and gives her coffee. Coffee that tastes odd to Norah.

Harry starts to put the moves on Norah as she starts to question where the friends are. When he goes on her she attacks him, pulls away, breaks the mirror, and…fade to black.

The next morning all the girls are up and early, except Norah. She has a headache and a hangover. The girls think she went out drinking as they both read her letter. Norah can’t remember anything.

The police start investigating Harry’s death. The maid has already started cleaning up before she fund the body and washed two sets of dishes-no dice on DNA. All they have to go on is black suede heels size 5. And that she was a beautiful blonde-Harry’s type.

Casey directs the police to the phone company, knowing that where Harry found his ladies. He heads to the newspaper office, hit with the fantastic idea of calling her “The Blue Gardenia” after the song and the restaurant.

They question girl after girl, Norah becoming more and more upset with each one, more afraid as bits of the previous night come back to her piece by piece.

She can remember being there and if she was there that night she must have murdered him. Se continues to grow restless and snappish, having her friends and roommates questioning her.

Then Casey gets told he will have to be sent elsewhere to report on something, but he wants to see the Blue Gardenia play out. He gets the idea from a joke of a coworker to write a letter and see if she will speak to him.

A Letter to an Unknown Murderess. Dear Blue Gardenia, Any day now, any hour… any minute, the police are going to catch up with you… But, all they want is a quick confession… I want to help you. When I say “I”, that means my newspaper and me. To us you’re a story… a big story! If we get it first we will go all out for you. You can trust me. And, I promise not to print a line without your permission. By now you must be frightened out of your wits. You don’t know which way to turn, there’s no place to hide, nowhere to run… except to me. So take my advice, Blue Gardenia. Go to the nearest phone booth and invest a dime on the rest of your life. Dial Madison 60025. And ask for, yours very earnestly, Casey Mayo.

Norah decides to answer. But will she end up in prison? Could a nice girl who has never done wrong have to spend a lifetime paying for a mistake?

Didn’t realize that the film was so close to Blackmail. It had similarities with the painting scene and walking at night in the fog, regretful.

A great movie, just as good as I remember and well worth watching.

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to What Happened to Ally Palmer?: The Good Student (2006)

For more film-noir, go to Go Ahead and Shoot…As Far As Killing Me, Well, I Don’t Think You’re That Good a Shot: Possessed (1947)

For more Anne Baxter, go to Oh, Moses, Moses: Happy 60th Anniversary to The Ten Commandments

For more on Ann Southern, go to Which Husband Ran Off With Addie Ross?: A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

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Which Husband Ran Off With Addie Ross?: A Letter to Three Wives (1949)

I consider myself extremely lucky to be able to take with me a memenento…you see girls I’ve run off with one of your husbands.

This is one of my favorite movies. One year for Christmas my friend bought me a 20th century fox 4-DVD set. It had An Affair to Remember, Leave Her to Heaven, Peyton Place, and A Letter to Three Wives. 

Wow!

I had never seen this film before, but when I showed it to my mom she said it was a great film. I decided to watch it and feel in love with it. Its an amazingly well done film.

So it isn’t really a horror film or one you would watch around Halloween-but it is a mystery so I decided to included it. My blog, my rules.

So the film starts off with three women, all in bad places in their marriage-and at the root of everyone’s trouble’s is the beautiful, classy, perfect woman-Addie Ross.

Ugh

We have Deborah Bishop (Jeanne Crain) who is fighting with her husband Bradford “Brad” Bishop (Jeffery Lynn). He is taking a bag and might be staying overnight for “business”. Deborah is upset because Bradford’s old sweetheart, Addie Ross, still is a close friend and seems to influence him. Brad bought Deborah a dress just like one that Addie wore. She feels so insecure and pale in comparison.

Rita Phipps (Ann Sothern) is a radio writer and she and her husband have been fighting about work and money. Addie Ross, who her husband George Phipps (Kirk Douglas), admires-just sent him a record that George loves and inscribed it with “if music be the food of love play on”. He also is wearing his blue suit on his fishing day…what is happening?

Hmm…

Lora Mae Hollingsworth (Linda Darnell) and her husband, Porter Hollingsworth (Paul Douglas), have the most tumultuous relationship of all. They constantly fight, bicker, argue, call each other names, etc. Addie Ross has always been Porter’s ideal woman, the only “queen in a silver picture frame” to grace his home.

They are all supposed to be going to help at the kid’s picnic, then home to change for the first big country club dance of the season. Addie was supposed to join them, but isn’t coming after all.

When they get there they receive a telegram. As they ferry across to the picnic area they discover that Addie Ross has left town, and with one of their husbands.

Which one? Well, she’s decided to keep that her little secret.

Seriously?

The women do their best to help out, but each has a hard time keeping their mind from wondering which one it could be. Is it Brad? Is it George? Is it Porter?

Hmm…

Is it Brad?

Brad and Addie had been dating and broke up before he went to war (WWII). He has money, prestige, class, etc-just like Addie-and unlike Deborah. Deborah grew up on a farm in Iowa. When they arrive in his hometown and she gets ready to go out to the country club dance and meet his friends she is definitely out of her element. Not sophisticated, young, cheap clothes that are long out of style. She gets so nervous she drinks more than she ever has and forgets to eat, making a fool out of herself. Did Brad finally see Deborah for what she is, a farmgirl out of her depth? And has he decided to go back to the real deal, the one best suited for his position, Addie Ross?

Is it Brad?

Hmm…

Or…is it George?

George is a teacher and Rita works in radio, paying the majority of the bills. She invites her bosses over-pople who would rather listen to commercials than the radio programs that are supposed to entertain people-and everything goes wrong.

The radio people are superficial, narcissistic, and don’t care anything for Rita but what they can get out of her. They are so eager to hear their advertisements they break George’s priceless record. He gets so upset that he rips them a new one and shatters all of Rita’s hopes for him to work at the station and make more money. To make it worse, Addie always understood that side of George. She’s too classy to ever choose radio over Shakespeare and the two have always had their little inside jokes. Could he have gotten tired of Rita’s pushing, her being gone all the time working and strayed for a more literary lady-Addie Ross?

Is it George?

Hmmm….

Or…is it Porter?

Lora Mae is from the wrong side of the tracks. She was working in the Hollingsworth Department store when Porter put the moves on her. But unlike the other clerks he had worked through, she wanted the real thing. She wanted to be loved, adored, and in a silver picture frame on a piano-like how Porter reveres Addie Ross. Porter tries at first to just get “the goods”, but Lora Mae doesn’t play that way. She dumps him and quits her job. But Porter comes after her and asks her to marry him, they should be happy right? Wrong. Porter sees her as a gold digger just trying to get the payout and never expects her to care or want more than money. Lora Mae is angry at him insulting her that way and how he doesn’t really love her, but loves Addie Ross. They fight constantly…did he decided to ditch his plan B for the woman he always wanted? Addie Ross?

Is it Porter?

Hmm…

The picnic is over sooner than they they though, as each one is dreading what comes next. Which wife will return to an empty home and missing husband.

Which one, which one?

This is an amazing film that I recommend watching to everyone. I love this movie I watch it practically every month.

You have to decide which one you think is the one who runs off. The end is good, but has confused people. In fact General Douglas MacArthur was so confused by the ending that he had his aide write Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the director,  a letter asking with whom Addie had, in fact, run off.

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to Just Read Books: Three Days of the Condor (1975)

For more Jeanne Crain films, go to I Do Think You Are Confused Mrs. Bowman: Dangerous Crossing (1953)

For more Kirk Douglas, go to  Why Didn’t You Stop Me, Sam? You Know How Much I Hated Her! Why Didn’t You Stop Me?: The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

For more film-noir, go to Is Christine the Ultimate Femme Fatale?