In the coal mining region of Pennsylvania, Wanda Goronski is constantly drinking to shut out the problems in her life. Having deserted her husband and infant children, Wanda sleeps on her ... See full summary »
Helen Ferguson, pregnant, penniless and dumped by her boyfriend Steve Morley, takes the identity of the pregnant Patrice Harkness, when she and her husband are killed in a train crash. The ... See full summary »
Alma, a lonely woman, falls for the conman who steals her money after seducing her. Frank doesn't want Alma around him, but he cannot do anything about the situation in case she goes to the... See full summary »
In the early 1950s, Martha Beck, who lives with her slightly senile mother, is the head nurse in a Mobile, Alabama hospital. She is bitter about her life, she not having male companionship in large part because she is overweight, while her bitterness in turn does not endear her to people. She is initially angry with her best friend, Bunny, for signing her up to a lonely hearts club, but eventually decides to give it a try. Through it, she meets Ray Fernandez, a suave Spanish immigrant living in New York, he who contacted Martha as the first through the club. After Ray's trip to Mobile to meet Martha, they fall in love. Upon a subsequent visit Martha makes to Ray in New York - which leads to her being fired in part for her time off work - he decides to be up front with her: that she is not only not his "first" but that he is really a con man who, primarily through the club, seduces then bilks lonely women of their money. Pretending to be his sister to prospective targets, Martha ... Written by
Originally to be directed by Martin Scorsese, but he was replaced after a week of shooting due to creative differences by Donald Volkman who was subsequently replaced by Leonard Kastle. Scorsese was fired because he was filming every scene in master shots and not shooting close-ups or other coverage, making the film impossible to edit. According to Kastle's interview with the Criterion collection, the ultimate moment that caused Scorsese's firing was trying to get close-up on a coffee-cup lit perfectly for the intended tone. See more »
A copy of the album "Whipped Cream & Other Delights" by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass is clearly visible in Martha's apartment. The album was released in 1965, while the movie takes place prior to 1951, according to the message at the end. See more »
Grubby cult item with most of its potential dulled by vapid handling
Tony Lo Bianco plays a Latin cad who meets women through a dating service, happily strings them along and marries them under an alias before taking off with their money; after meeting Shirley Stoler's possessive, mercurial Martha, he almost reluctantly allows his deceptions to turn into a series of murders. Low-budget queasiness (worked on at an early point by Martin Scorsese) takes a surprising amount of time to mount its grisly story--and by this point, one is watching and waiting for one of the nasty killings to occur simply because nothing else is happening. Lo Bianco and Stoler argue constantly, yet we can't see why he is so devoted to her (or why he changed his course of action for her in the first place). Stoler, in her nurse's uniform, looks like a camp icon (and in a house-dress with her hair down, she seems a refugee from a John Waters satire); her performance is almost all on one-note and she's tiresome, though Lo Bianco is exceptional and well-cast as a horny, naughty boy in a man's body. Based on a real-life couple in the 1940s dubbed 'The Lonely Hearts Killers', the movie was trumped the year before by the dark comedy "No Way To Treat A Lady" (which was actually more explicit and disturbing than this film). It isn't a terrible picture (some of the conceptions and camera compositions are startling), but with so little happening in the foreground, interest quickly wanes. *1/2 from ****
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