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The Blue Gardenia (1953)

Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 28 March 1953 (USA)
A telephone operator ends up drunk and at the mercy of a cad in his apartment. The next morning she wakes up with a hangover and the terrible fear she may be a murderess.

Director:

Fritz Lang

Writers:

Charles Hoffman (screenplay), Vera Caspary (story)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Anne Baxter ... Norah Larkin
Richard Conte ... Casey Mayo
Ann Sothern ... Crystal Carpenter
Raymond Burr ... Harry Prebble
Jeff Donnell ... Sally Ellis
Richard Erdman ... Al
George Reeves ... Police Capt. Sam Haynes
Ruth Storey Ruth Storey ... Rose Miller
Ray Walker ... Homer
Nat 'King' Cole ... Nat 'King' Cole
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

There was nothing lily-white about her !


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 March 1953 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Blue Gardenia See more »

Filming Locations:

Los Angeles, California, USA See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

When May, the Flower Woman brings a gardenia to Nat King Cole, she lifts her leg unhesitatingly onto the step up to the level of the piano. No blind person could make such a smooth move no matter how well they knew the area. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Casey Mayo: [friendly waking up Al in the backseat of his car] Hey,
[rustles his hair]
Casey Mayo: sleepy.
Al: [wakes up slightly startled] Where?
[sign reads: West Coast Telephone Co]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Django Unchained (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Theme from 'Now, Voyager'
(uncredited)
Music by Max Steiner
occurs periodically in the underscore
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A strong, crime tinged, imperfect melodrama
2 June 2010 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Blue Gardenia (1953)

The likable Richard Conte makes a great news reporter here, and Anne Baxter as the woman in trouble is pitch perfect. In fact, Baxter's two sidekicks are also right on, Jeff Donnell (a woman, really sharp) and Ann Southern. It's a good story, a little forced, but with lots of atmosphere at the right times (including a scene with the real Nat King Cole playing and singing).

What holds the movie back is a mixture of basic story line, which lacks velocity and credibility equally, and direction, which doesn't heighten what is really strong here. That is, a great cast, and some great situations (including murder). Fritz Lang, the director, is accountable, of course, for some judgements that let things loosen up too much, and for the cute but abrupt ending. There are some characters that got developed in the beginning that don't get a chance to blossom. If we just focus on the two leads (no counting Raymond Burr, who has a brief and different kind of presence), there is a chemistry not quite clicking. Nice, regular guy Conte and slightly sophisticated Baxter don't quite match up, even though both are convincing individually.

There is some talent behind the scenes here worth mention, especially cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, who has done a whole slew of great small movies with astonishing visuals. Lang uses him well, though with a studied restraint that almost implies this was a throwaway effort. It comes between two of his greatest American movies, however: Clash by Night and The Big Heat. It's worth a look, a good movie not quite a noir by usual measures, but filled with intrigue and a little touch of welcome romance.


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