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The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946)

A man is reunited with his childhood friend and her husband, who believe he knows the truth about the death of her rich aunt years earlier.


Lewis Milestone


Robert Rossen (screenplay), John Patrick (from an original story by) (as Jack Patrick)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Barbara Stanwyck ... Martha Ivers
Van Heflin ... Sam Masterson
Lizabeth Scott ... Toni Marachek
Kirk Douglas ... Walter O'Neil
Judith Anderson ... Mrs. Ivers
Roman Bohnen ... Mr. O'Neil
Darryl Hickman ... Sam - As a Child
Janis Wilson ... Martha - As a Child
Ann Doran ... Bobbi St. John
Frank Orth ... Hotel Clerk
James Flavin ... Detective #1
Mickey Kuhn ... Walter - As a Child
Charles D. Brown Charles D. Brown ... McCarthy


In 1928, young heiress Martha Ivers fails to run off with friend Sam Masterson, and is involved in fatal events. Years later, Sam returns to find Martha the power behind Iverstown and married to "good boy" Walter O'Neil, now district attorney. At first, Sam is more interested in displaced blonde Toni Marachek than in his boyhood friends, but they draw him into a convoluted web of plotting and cross-purposes. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Fate drew them together... and only murder could part them! See more »


Unrated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

13 September 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Love Lies Bleeding See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Hal Wallis Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


"The Hedda Hopper Show - This Is Hollywood" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on April 12, 1947 with Van Heflin reprising his film role. See more »


When Sam Masterson climbs over the fence after being beaten up, there is already a smear of blood on the fence where he places his hand, before he places his hand there. See more »


[repeated line]
Sam Masterson: Dont look back, baby. Don't ever look back. You know what happened to Lot's wife, don't ya?
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: IVERSTOWN 1928. See more »


Referenced in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Magic Sword (1992) See more »


Strange Love
Music by Miklós Rózsa
Lyrics by Edward Heyman
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

10 September 2005 | by LexticalSee all my reviews

With all of the schemes, intrigue, sexual undertones and murder this is a very rare and so incredibly original post-wartime movie.

Many have cited this as the inspiration for the much later 'Neo-Noir' alongside, another Stanwyck classic 'Double Indemnity'.

Unlike the latter feature, this film is not filled with cold and brooding images.

The film starts off dramatically with a strong cameo by Judith 'Mrs. Danvers' Anderson. The teen-aged actors that portray Stanwyck's, Heflin's, and Douglas's characters as youths deliver very moving performances.

They capture the tension of murderess Martha's wicked deed. The teen-aged actors pull off the difficult task of linking their characters with the mature characters- a great start to this bold film.

Personally, Barbara Stanwyck is the best of the 'Golden Hollywood' queens, and displays why with this subtle yet sly performance. Unlike many of the other criminals she portrayed, Barbara is cold-blooded rather than hysterically evil and occasionally reveals the blood that boils behind her gray eyes.

Her lethal attraction to Heflin is passionate at the same time as chilling. It is a true triumph that the colourful relationship between the two sizzles on the screen without the use of lush, colourful cinematography! The black and white colour highlights the gloom of the piece.

Van Heflin swaggers through the film, giving a satisfactory performance as the wronged kid 'from the wrong side of the tracks'. Many have praised Lizabeth Scott for her sultry performance as the equally dubious Toni Marachek. This is true. She is a worthy foe for Stanwyck, and in some scenes does steal the attention away from her co-stars.

Now, many have criticised Kirk Douglas's performance as over-acted and unconvincing. I have to disagree. Perhaps for many audiences, it is too much of a shock to see the usually rugged, manly Douglas playing an unstable Daddy's boy manipulated by his wife, and cowardly towards the end. It is a difficult role, but Douglas retains the wimpish quality of Walter from start to finish, also depending on the actions and control of his unbalanced wife.

Towering performances, a gloomy soundtrack, and dark cinematography make this feature dazzle as one of the best 'film noir' genre produced in the 1940s.

Lizabeth Scott in particular gives a commanding performance, which generates interest, glamour and suspicion. These are the stem of the themes to this great film.

Brilliant as it was 59 years ago!

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