Mae Doyle comes back to her hometown a cynical woman. Her brother Joe fears that his love, fish cannery worker Peggy, may wind up like Mae. Mae marries Jerry and has a baby; she is happy but restless, drawn to Jerry's friend Earl.
In Los Angeles, on the day of her birthday, the telephone operator Norah Larkin decides to celebrate dining alone at home, with the picture of her beloved fiancé, a soldier overseas, and reading his last letter to her. In the letter he tells her that he met an Army nurse stationed in Japan and plans to marry her. Norah, completely upset, accepts to blind date the Don Juan and photographer of calendar girls Harry Prebble. They go to the Blue Gardenia Club, and Norah drinks six strong cocktails Polynesian Pearl Divers and gets completely drunk. Harry takes her to his apartment and tries to force Norah to have sex, and she uses a poker to hit Harry on the head. On the next morning, she wakes-up in her apartment with her two roommates, but she can not remember what happened. When she reads the newspaper, she finds that Harry is dead and the police has her handkerchief, her high heels and her blue gardenia and is chasing the woman that killed the famous wolf Harry. When she reads in the ... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Director Fritz Lang and cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca developed a revolutionary dolly for the camera that allowed for sustained tracking shots and intimate close-ups while shooting this film. Lang preferred the practice of tracking into a close-up shot of an actor as opposed to cutting to a close-up in editing. He believed the tracking close-up captured more of the actors' intimacy and emotions. See more »
Perhaps unaware that his hands on the keyboard are visible in the mirror behind him, Nat 'King' Cole plays a strikingly different piano arrangement of "Blue Gardenia" than the one we are hearing. See more »
Lt. George Foster:
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 ...
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One thing this film has going for itself is atmosphere. Making it all seem relevant is the featured song, more than just a theme, an integral part of the movie, sung by the enchanting man with the melodious voice, Nat "King" Cole, who makes a much too brief appearance as the piano man in the club called The Blue Gardenia.
Besides the hypnotic melody, the interplay among the three room mates, Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter), Crystal Carpenter (Ann Sothern), and Sally Ellis (Jeff Donnell), represents the apex of this enjoyable Fritz Lang outing, not as dour as many of his films, wrapped in Sturm und Drang, tended to be. If "The Blue Gardenia" is to be classified at all, it would possibly be labeled lighter Noir.
Of the interplay between the room mates, Ann Sothern as Crystal with her biting wit and mock delivery, is the highlight. On the other hand, both Crystal and Jeff Donnell as Sally are sounding boards (sort of a Greek chorus) for troubled and tormented Anne Baxter as Norah.
In one of his final roles as a heavy, Raymond Burr as Harry Prebble shows the viewer what a versatile actor he could be. As womanizer, woman-hater Harry Prebble, he convincingly conveys to the audience the loathsome qualities of such a creature. Sex is power and domination, an ego enhancer, not pleasurable or loving in any way except to provide sweet loving lies to permit the conquest. Norah Larkin gives in to this sexual predator in a moment of weakness following the receipt of a Dear John letter from her sweetheart overseas. Prebble, true to form, proceeds to get Norah drunk at The Blue Gardenia as a prelude to seduction. In the process of attempting to woo her with words in his apartment, Prebble becomes more forceful when Norah revives long enough to realize Prebble's true intentions. When she awakes in the morning she finds Prebble dead. Norah has only a hazy recollection of a poker being swung and a mirror shattering. All else is blank.
Assigned to the investigation is Police Capt.Sam Haynes (George Reeves of TV "Superman" fame, showing all the earmarks of a great actor before being typecast on television), who seeks to wrap the case up quickly by apprehending the mystery lady who was seen with Prebble at The Blue Gardenia just before his death. A newspaper reporter, Casey Mayo (Richard Conte), sees a chance for a big story that might jump start his career as a journalist. The media begins to tout the mystery lady as the tantalizing "Blue Gardenia."
"The Blue Gardenia" has all the marks of a great murder mystery in the tradition of "Laura," written by the same person, Vera Caspary. But for some reason, lack of money, lack of time, Fritz Lang wraps the entire project up much too soon. The ending is so abrupt that it appears thrown together as if in the middle of a scene the director yells out, "Wrap it up," and leaves the set. Yet, that's the only major flaw in the film. Otherwise, watch and enjoy.
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