Fritz Lang directed THE BLUE GARDENIA, the first of his newspaper noir film trilogy. It takes a particularly harsh look at newspaper coverage of sensational crimes. Richard Conte is columnist Casey Mayo who’s interest is a headline story and attendant publicity, never mind how he gets it. That is, until he meets the murderess the cops are after.
Anne Baxter is Nora Larkin, a phone company operator along with her two roommates Crystal Carpenter(Ann Sothern) and Sally Ellis(Jeff Donnell). Crystal likes men and Sally likes mystery stories. Nora has a fiance who’s in Korea at the moment.
Raymond Burr is Harry Prebble, a calender painter of beautiful women who has an eye for the ladies. His particular interest at the moment is Crystal, who’s having none of it. When Casey Mayo stops off at the phone company, Crystal, posing for Prebble at the time, instantly gives him her number, which Prebble jots down. We get a notion of Prebble’s character when he gets a call in his office at the phone company from a woman begging him to help her. He’s angry that she called there and tells her to all him at home. To which she crys, “You changed the number and the phone company won’t give it to me!”
The day is Nora’s birthday and she’s cooked a dinner where hre plans to read her fiance’s latest letter, an infrequent occurence and one she’s saved for just this moment. But what she gets is a Dear John(not sure what you call one to the girl, Dear Jane maybe) letter. He’s met a nurse and plans to marry her when he gets out.
At that moment, Harry Prebble calls and thinks it’s Crystal. Nora tries to explain but he invites her to the Blue Gardenia restaurant for dinner and drinks, then hangs up. On impulse, she decides to meet him where he’s already arranged with the waiter to go heavy on the rum in their drinks. He learns it’s not Crystal when she arrives, but he likes beautiful women. Nat ‘King’ Cole is the entertainment aand sings the title song of the film.
Prebble keeps plying her with drinks, then takes her to his apartment where people are supposed to come. But no one is there and he serves Nora champagne and loaded coffee. When he starts getting too frisky, they end up staggering across the room until up against a fireplace where she grabs a poker and clubs him, then passes out. When she comes to, she rushes out into the rain, leaving her shoes behind.
The next day she remembers nothing much and then learns that Prebble is dead. The cops, led by Captain Sam Haynes(George ‘Superman’ Reeves), are questoning the operators where Prebble had been sketching them for a calander.
Casey Mayo wants the story adoes whatever it takes to get his exclusive. He writes ‘The Blue Gardenia” a letter, what the murderess has been dubbe, preomising her the backing of the paper’s lawyers if he gets the story. All a lie of ciurse, he intends to turn her over to the cops as soon as he gets his story.
Then he meets her and she’s not at all like he figured and there’s an instant attraction for him. But Captain Haynes is no fool and grabs her up before he can do anything.
Suddenly Mayo believes she’s innocent and goes looking for the real killer.
Nice little drama.
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