IMDb > Portrait in Black (1960)
Portrait in Black
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

Portrait in Black (1960) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 21 | slideshow)


User Rating:
6.7/10   783 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
Popularity: ?
Up 16% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Ivan Goff (screenplay) and
Ben Roberts (screenplay) ...
View company contact information for Portrait in Black on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
27 July 1960 (USA) See more »
They touched...and an evil spark was struck! See more »
After a married woman and her lover murder her cruel husband, they find themselves targeted by someone who is aware of their crime. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
A terrific Douglas Sirk kind of film with touches of a Hitchcock plot...great! See more (22 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)

Lana Turner ... Sheila Cabot

Anthony Quinn ... Dr. David Rivera

Richard Basehart ... Howard Mason

Sandra Dee ... Cathy Cabot

John Saxon ... Blake Richards

Ray Walston ... Cobb

Virginia Grey ... Miss Lee

Anna May Wong ... Tawny
Dennis Kohler ... Peter Cabot

Lloyd Nolan ... Matthew S. Cabot
Elizabeth Chan ... Chinese Dancer

John Wengraf ... Dr. Kessler
John McNamara ... Minister
George Womack ... Foreman
Paul Birch ... Detective Lieutenant
Robert P. Lieb (as Robert Lieb)
James Nolan ... Detective
Richard Norris ... Mr. Corbin
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Jack Bryan ... Patrolman (uncredited)
Harold Goodwin ... Patrolman (uncredited)

Harold Miller ... Funeral Guest (uncredited)

William H. O'Brien ... Sheila's Chauffeur (uncredited)
Henry S. Quan ... Headwaiter (uncredited)
Charles Thompson ... Sid (uncredited)

Directed by
Michael Gordon 
Writing credits
Ivan Goff (screenplay) and
Ben Roberts (screenplay)

Ivan Goff (based upon the play by) and
Ben Roberts (based upon the play by)

Produced by
Ross Hunter .... producer
Original Music by
Frank Skinner 
Cinematography by
Russell Metty (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Milton Carruth 
Art Direction by
Richard H. Riedel 
Set Decoration by
Julia Heron 
Costume Design by
Jean Louis (gowns)
Makeup Department
Larry Germain .... hair stylist
Bud Westmore .... makeup artist
Del Armstrong .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Pat Westmore .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Production Management
Edward Muhl .... in charge of production
Edward Dodds .... unit production manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Phil Bowles .... assistant director
Douglas Green .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
John Faltis .... props (uncredited)
Solly Martino .... props (uncredited)
Sound Department
Waldon O. Watson .... sound
Henry Wilkinson .... sound
Glenn E. Anderson .... sound (uncredited)
Tom Rennings .... sound (uncredited)
Ted White .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Virgil Proctor .... best boy
George Dye .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Ledge Haddow .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Carl Johnston .... grip (uncredited)
Rollie Lane .... still photographer (uncredited)
Max Nippell .... gaffer (uncredited)
Eddie Pyle .... camera operator (uncredited)
Walter Woodworth .... grip (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Adene Henderson .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Norman Mayries .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Viola Thompson .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Music Department
Joseph Gershenson .... music supervisor
Inez James .... composer: musical theme
Buddy Pepper .... composer: musical theme
Ethmer Roten .... musician: flute (uncredited)
Other crew
David Webb .... jewels
Leon Charles .... dialogue director (uncredited)
Jack Dimond .... publicity director (uncredited)
Wayne Fitzgerald .... title designer (uncredited)
Don Morgan .... unit publicist (uncredited)
Dolores Rubin .... script supervisor (uncredited)

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
112 min
Color (Eastmancolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Did You Know?

This marked the third and final onscreen teaming of Sandra Dee and John Saxon. Over 30 years later they would co-star in the play "Love Letters".See more »
Continuity: When Miss Lee approaches Cathy and Blake the restaurant, Blake is holding a cup in his right hand and places it down. In the next shot, he's holding the cup in his left hand and puts it down again.See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in The Killing Floor (2007)See more »


World Premiere Happened When & Where?
See more »
5 out of 5 people found the following review useful.
A terrific Douglas Sirk kind of film with touches of a Hitchcock plot...great!, 14 August 2011
Author: secondtake from United States

Portrait in Black (1960)

In a beautifully drippy, bleeding, sticky Douglas Sirk mode, and one year after leading lady Lana Turner appeared in Sirk's "Imitation of Life," this highly slick and artificial (and yet moving) melodrama is one of the high points in a low period of Hollywood. The other main character is Anthony Quinn, who is remarkable, too, one of those underrated leading men, I'm not sure why. The two of them are supported by Richard Basehart as a fascinating and chilling underling with a peculiar mysterious cheerfulness, and Sandra Dee, who plays the spoiled daughter all too well (as you can imagine).

Unlike Sirk's dramas, this one, directed by is not just about normal human dramas (soap opera stuff), but adds a criminal and suspense element that kicks in after half an hour. The throbbing music takes on a different meaning here, and the sobbing and regrets make for an intense ride.

The deeper you get into this movie, the deeper the plot gets, with intrigue and worry and more murder mounting. And it's all filmed with fluid, rich, widescreen color photography, with intensely rendered music (that holds nothing back), and with a subtle kind of attention to nuance that oddly adds to the excesses of the plot.

And it's the plot, the story, that is so finely tuned it sustains all this cinematic swaying. It's not like some movies where the music or the photography drives the plot--here they are woven together really well, artfully and emphatically. Quinn and Turner are both extraordinary, lifting what could have been a soap opera to something completely fuller.

Russell Metty, behind the camera, was at the peak of his career, having shot not only "Imitation of Life" the year before but Sirk's early "Written on the Wind" (and moving on quickly to several masterpieces like "Spartacus" and "The Misfits"). And in fact the composer, veteran Frank Skinner, wrote the music for those two classic Sirk films, as well. It's worth stressing all this because Sirk has a huge (and deserved) following, and I have a feeling this one is just under the radar of Sirk fans. If a great Sirk film seems to almost reference itself the way it becomes so perfectly "arch" in its stereotypes, "Portrait in Black" does maintain a sense of being still a film wanting to move a plot idea along (these are subtle differences about style becoming affectation on purpose). But even so, the parallels are extraordinary, and this is a remarkable movie on those terms.

It's worth wondering what else, beyond Sirk, was going on around this time, and in fact, with the murder and suspense here it helps to look at Hitchcock's films "North by Northwest" (1959) and "Vertigo" (1958). Both are clearly influences in filming style, lacking only that higher level of stylized artfulness (and storytelling) that Hitch was by then such a master of. Or then, you might say, there was perhaps the influence of Sirk on Hitchcock, at least in the visual richness and fluidity (something Hitch abandoned immediately, almost making a point, this very year with "Psycho").

Anyway, if you don't mind an over the top melodrama done to perfection, here you go. And for movie fans, check out Anna May Wong's last film appearance (not a great performance, but she's her own legend). See it on the biggest screen you can, too--this doesn't translate well at all to a laptop experience.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (22 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Portrait in Black (1960)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
DVD rtaggart-1
Anyone ever seen Portrait in Black as a Play? imareserve
See more »


If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
So Sweet, So Dead Dial M for Murder I Confess Before the Devil Knows You're Dead The Letter
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
News articles IMDb Crime section IMDb USA section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.