The Blue Gardenia (1953) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • 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 newspaper that the journalist Casey Mayo is offering his support, exchanging per an exclusive interview, Norah decides to call him.

  • Norah Larkin is a telephone operator who plans to spend her birthday evening alone with her boyfriend - or rather, with his photograph and a letter she just received from him. The real guy is 6000 miles away in Korea. While her two roommates - Crystal, a wisecracking divorcée and Sally, a sweet girl with a taste for bloodthirsty mystery novels - are gone, Norah, wearing a black taffeta dress and sipping champagne, reads the letter and blanches. Her sweetheart has dumped her. She ends up spending the rest of her evening with Harry Prebble, a wolf who draws girls for a living and ruins them as a hobby. He takes her to the Blue Gardenia and they listen to Nat King Cole as he gets her very drunk on Polynesian pearl divers. The next morning she wakes up with a terrible hangover. At work she learns of a murderess soon to be called the Blue Gardenia Girl. The label is invented by a newspaper columnist named Casey Mayo, who hopes to find the femme fatale before the police. What worries Norah is that he and the police may both be looking for her.

  • Nora is a pretty telephone operator engaged to a soldier overseas. On her birthday, she gets a Dear John letter from him. Feeling despondent, she agrees to a date with a wolf from her office. He gets her drunk and leads her back to his apartment, where she resists his advances and bludgeons him in self-defense. She flees leaving behind the blue gardenia he bought her. The next morning, she's can't remember the details of what happened.

  • 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.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Casey Mayo (Richard Conte) is the star reporter of the newspaper world and everybody knows him by his reputation as writer and a playboy. Harry Prebble (Raymond Burr) is a star commercial artist and a playboy too it seems when we meet him amidst the pool of female telephone receptionists. Both men are cruising for a date, and Crystal (Ann Southern) readily offers her phone number to Mayo, who gives it over to Prebble with Crystal's flirtatious objections. Another side of Prebble's character is seen later when he coldly rebuffs a former lover over the phone when she pleads for his attention. Norah Larkin (Anne Baxter), Crystal (Ann Southern) and Sally (Jeff Donnell) live together in what seems like a one-bedroom house and share the household duties. Each woman is shown to have a particular personality in a household built on positive outlook about life and careers. Norah plans a solitary dinner doting on the picture of her fianc, a GI stationed in Korea, but is heartbroken when his letter to her states that he is marrying someone else. Norah tries to rebound by meeting Harry Prebble who has phoned for Crystal. At dinner Prebble plies Norah with drink and charm and lures her back to his studio apartment. When he tries to force himself on her, she hits him with a poker and runs out drunken and confused. Prebble is found dead the next morning, and Norah, blanking from the alcohol she consumed, and seeing news headlines believes she may have killed him. Casey Mayo, trying to develop a story angle, comes up with the idea of publishing an open letter to the "Blue Gardenia Murderess", to turn herself in with protection from the newspaper. Norah contacts Mayo pretending to be a friend of the murderess with information on the case and the two begin to fall in love. The Police catch up with Norah soon after, and Mayo, reviewing the circumstances surrounding the murder aids the Police in further questioning of possible suspects with a startling discovery.

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